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Working As a Community Health Counselor

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $38,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Community Health Counselor Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Duties

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones.

Although some disorders can be overcome, others need to be managed. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.

Many mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Mental health counselors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. 

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers.

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How To Become A Community Health Counselor

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.

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Community Health Counselor Career Paths

Community Health Counselor
Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Clinician Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Consultant Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Clinician Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Senior Counselor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Adjunct Professor Superintendent
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Clinician Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Clinician Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Clinician Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Instructor Lead Teacher House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Lead Teacher Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Worker Residential Supervisor
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Adjunct Professor Education Consultant
Student Dean
7 Yearsyrs
Employment Specialist Medicaid Service Coordinator Integrator
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Mental Health Aide 3.0 years
Group Counselor 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Youth Counselor 1.9 years
Relief Counselor 1.9 years
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Community Health Counselor
Internship 15.2%
Counselor 8.6%
Volunteer 5.7%
Cashier 4.1%
Teacher 4.0%
Therapist 3.7%
Clinician 2.9%
Top Careers After Community Health Counselor
Case Manager 13.0%
Counselor 9.9%
Therapist 7.7%
Internship 6.7%
Clinician 5.6%
Volunteer 3.9%
Teacher 3.3%

Do you work as a Community Health Counselor?

Average Yearly Salary
$38,000
Show Salaries
$26,000
Min 10%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$38,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Lieutenant governor
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.1 years
How much does a Community Health Counselor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Community Health Counselor in the United States is $38,245 per year or $18 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $26,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $54,000.

Real Community Health Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Special Events Animal Health Counselor Royal Canin USA, Inc. Saint Charles, MO Aug 15, 2010 $73,542
Integrated Behavioral Health Counselor Asian Human Services of Chicago, Inc. Chicago, IL Feb 23, 2015 $47,500
Behavioral Health Counselor Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 18, 2011 $47,500
Behavorial Health Counselor Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, Inc. Columbia, SC Oct 01, 2010 $45,000
Behavioral Health Counselor Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Mar 11, 2014 $44,000
Behavioral Health Counselor Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Feb 25, 2013 $44,000
Behavioral Health Counselor Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2011 $44,000
Health Care Counselor Center for Seniors Chicago, IL Nov 25, 2010 $43,932
Behavioral Health Counselor Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 10, 2010 $43,680
Menatl Health Counselor St. Marks Institute for Mental Health Inc. Nyack, NY Sep 12, 2013 $42,930
Health Counselor Dinesh Khanna Md Pa The Villages, FL Sep 23, 2010 $42,000
Behavior Health Counselor T. W. Ponessa & Associates Counseling Services, In Lancaster, PA Sep 26, 2011 $39,535
Health Counselor Samaritan House USA LLC Oxon Hill, MD Sep 20, 2013 $36,523
Behavioral Health Counselor South Cove Community Health Center Boston, MA Sep 23, 2015 $36,000 -
$46,000
Community Based Counselor II National Counseling Group Virginia Beach, VA Sep 03, 2012 $34,407 -
$50,007
Community Based Counselor II National Counseling Group Virginia Beach, VA Jan 12, 2012 $34,407 -
$50,007
Community Based Counselor II National Counseling Group Virginia Beach, VA Oct 01, 2012 $34,407 -
$50,007
Community Based Counselor National Counseling Group, Inc. Newport News, VA Sep 23, 2016 $34,323
Reproductive Health Counselor Health Imperatives Nantucket, MA Aug 06, 2012 $33,392
Citywide Community Counseling Services, INC. Citywide Community Counseling Services, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 13, 2013 $30,742
Natural Health Counselor Constantine G. Marousis Md Pa Sarasota, FL Oct 15, 2009 $29,176

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Top Skills for A Community Health Counselor

  1. Mental Health Services
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Treatment Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Coordinated outpatient physical and mental health services as appropriate to individual clients.
  • Conducted individual counseling sessions and group counseling sessions, monitored the therapeutic environment and provided emergency or acute crisis intervention services.
  • Collaborated with community mental health practitioners to develop comprehensive treatment plans and to maximize the entire recovery process.
  • Provided assistance with independent living skills, case management, medication monitoring, and transportation.
  • Conducted individual and group therapy sessions with assigned offenders.

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Top 10 Best States for Community Health Counselors

  1. Maine
  2. Alaska
  3. Nevada
  4. Louisiana
  5. Rhode Island
  6. New Mexico
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Oregon
  9. Arizona
  10. Washington
  • (132 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (103 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (68 jobs)
  • (934 jobs)
  • (128 jobs)
  • (192 jobs)
  • (344 jobs)

Community Health Counselor Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 3,730 Community Health Counselor resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Community Health Counselor Resume

View Resume Examples

Community Health Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

59.7%

Male

25.8%

Unknown

14.5%
Ethnicity

White

62.3%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

12.9%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.5%

French

9.4%

German

3.8%

Portuguese

3.1%

Chinese

3.1%

Russian

2.5%

Italian

2.5%

Mandarin

1.9%

Romanian

1.3%

Hmong

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Swedish

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Dutch

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Danish

0.6%

Khmer

0.6%

Yoruba

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.6%
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Community Health Counselor Education

Schools

Liberty University

12.6%

University of Phoenix

9.7%

Capella University

8.6%

University of Memphis

8.3%

Walden University

7.1%

Montclair State University

5.7%

Norfolk State University

5.2%

Kean University

5.1%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.3%

New York University

3.9%

Old Dominion University

3.7%

Ramapo College of New Jersey

3.2%

University of Northern Iowa

3.2%

Fordham University

3.1%

Strayer University

2.9%

William Paterson University of New Jersey

2.8%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

2.8%

Troy University

2.6%

Seton Hall University

2.6%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

2.5%
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Majors

Psychology

18.8%

Social Work

16.9%

School Counseling

8.4%

Mental Health Counseling

8.3%

Counseling Psychology

7.7%

Criminal Justice

5.8%

Human Services

5.2%

Business

4.2%

Sociology

4.2%

Nursing

3.7%

Clinical Psychology

2.8%

Education

2.4%

Rehabilitation Science

2.0%

Family Therapy

1.9%

Public Health

1.6%

Management

1.4%

Liberal Arts

1.3%

Elementary Education

1.2%

Health Care Administration

1.2%

Communication

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

45.1%

Bachelors

32.9%

Other

11.5%

Associate

4.2%

Doctorate

2.9%

Certificate

2.8%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.2%
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Updated May 19, 2020