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Become A Community Health Counselor

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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

  • $43,083

    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 Jobs

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Community Health Counselor Career Paths

Community Health Counselor
Adjunct Professor Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Program Director Home Health Aid Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Program Coordinator Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Day Camp Counselor Special Education Teacher School Counselor
Counseling Director
5 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Therapist Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Program Director Service Director
Director Of Support Services
10 Yearsyrs
Program Director Registered Nurse Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Clinician
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Family Counselor Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Clinician Clinical Social Worker Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Specialist Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Psychotherapist Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Program Director
Unit Director
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Clinician Clinical Coordinator Utilization Review Nurse
Utilities Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Community Health Counselor?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Juvenile Counselor 2.9 years
Primary Counselor 2.5 years
Group Counselor 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 14.4%
Counselor 8.6%
Volunteer 5.5%
Teacher 4.3%
Therapist 4.1%
Cashier 3.4%
Clinician 3.2%
Supervisor 3.0%
Top Employers After
Case Manager 12.3%
Counselor 9.3%
Therapist 8.0%
Internship 6.1%
Clinician 5.1%
Volunteer 3.8%
Teacher 3.1%

Do you work as a Community Health Counselor?

Community Health Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

69.7%

Male

27.9%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

12.7%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.4%

French

12.9%

Italian

5.0%

German

5.0%

Russian

4.0%

Romanian

2.0%

Hmong

2.0%

Portuguese

2.0%

Swedish

1.0%

Turkish

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Dutch

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Danish

1.0%

Indonesian

1.0%

Yoruba

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Norwegian

1.0%

Armenian

1.0%

Cantonese

1.0%
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Community Health Counselor Education

Schools

Liberty University

15.1%

University of Memphis

8.2%

Walden University

7.7%

Capella University

7.7%

University of Phoenix

7.1%

Montclair State University

5.7%

Virginia Commonwealth University

5.1%

Norfolk State University

4.5%

Kean University

4.3%

University of Northern Iowa

4.0%

Strayer University

3.7%

New York University

3.4%

Fordham University

3.4%

Old Dominion University

3.4%

Troy University

3.1%

California State University - Chico

3.1%

Ramapo College of New Jersey

2.8%

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

2.8%

Temple University

2.6%

Syracuse University

2.3%
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Majors

Psychology

18.0%

Social Work

17.6%

Counseling Psychology

8.2%

School Counseling

8.0%

Mental Health Counseling

7.7%

Criminal Justice

6.0%

Human Services

5.0%

Business

3.8%

Nursing

3.8%

Sociology

3.6%

Clinical Psychology

2.7%

Rehabilitation Science

2.6%

Education

2.4%

Family Therapy

2.1%

Management

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Communication

1.3%

Public Health

1.2%

Special Education

1.2%

Health Care Administration

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

46.6%

Bachelors

31.1%

Other

11.5%

Associate

4.4%

Doctorate

3.0%

Certificate

2.9%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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

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  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Mental Health Issues
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed client-specific treatment plans to address needs and problem areas utilizing solution-focused treatment strategies.
  • Provide a safe a therapeutic milieu, crisis intervention, individual/family education groups and activities of daily living.
  • Implement known principles and dynamics of adolescent development, abuse, chemical dependency and mental health issues.
  • Plan and facilitate therapy, coping activity and psycho-educational groups to enhance social skills and promote relapse prevention and independent living.
  • Monitored and supported the milieu of residential and transitional living clients with eating disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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Top 10 Best States for Community Health Counselors

  1. Maine
  2. Alaska
  3. Wyoming
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. New Jersey
  6. Nevada
  7. Connecticut
  8. Rhode Island
  9. North Dakota
  10. Oregon
  • (132 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (602 jobs)
  • (305 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (176 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (128 jobs)

Top Community Health Counselor Employers

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Jobs From Top Community Health Counselor Employers

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