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Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.Education
To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.
Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.
Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.Training
Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.Licenses
All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.
Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.Important Qualities
Compassion. Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.
Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.
Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.
Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.
Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Clinical Counselor
Top Careers After Clinical Counselor
Hispanic or Latino10.1%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of South Carolina - Columbia7.2%
University of Phoenix5.3%
Nova Southeastern University4.0%
New York University3.4%
University of West Florida3.4%
Florida State University3.4%
Grand Canyon University3.4%
Cleveland State University3.1%
Johns Hopkins University3.1%
Chicago School of Professional Psychology2.8%
University of South Florida2.5%
University of North Florida2.5%
Virginia Commonwealth University2.5%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Clinical Counselor (Psychologist)||San Francisco State University||San Francisco, CA||Jan 19, 2015||$66,588 -
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL||Apr 25, 2016||$59,580|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Jan 08, 2016||$56,500|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Sep 15, 2014||$55,120|
|Clinical Counselor||Henry Street Settlement||New York, NY||Feb 01, 2010||$55,000|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Aug 26, 2016||$54,340|
|Senior Clinical Counselor||Oklahoma State University||Stillwater, OK||Jan 02, 2010||$53,904|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Aug 18, 2014||$53,000|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Mar 16, 2014||$51,507|
|Clinical Counselor||University of Illinois||Champaign, IL||Aug 26, 2013||$51,507|
|Clinical Trial Counselor||Iberica USA, Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 17, 2010||$50,000|
|Clinical Counselor||Cambridge & Somerville Programs for Alcohol & Drug||Cambridge, MA||Oct 01, 2011||$45,000|
|Clinical Counselor||Caspar, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Jul 06, 2012||$44,658|
|Senior Clinical Counselor||Oklahoma State University||Stillwater, OK||Mar 11, 2016||$42,890 -
|Senior Clinical Counselor||Oklahoma State University||Stillwater, OK||Jan 11, 2015||$42,000 -
|Professional Clinical Counselor||The Open Mind Training Institute||Santa Monica, CA||Aug 17, 2016||$41,740|
|Clinical Counselor||Heartland Human Care Services Inc.||Chicago, IL||Apr 30, 2015||$37,232|
|Clinical Counselor||Heartland Human Care Services Inc.||Chicago, IL||May 01, 2015||$37,232|
|Clinical Counselor||Heartland Human Care Services Inc.||Chicago, IL||May 08, 2015||$37,232|
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