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Become A Direct Care Counselor

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Working As A Direct Care 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

  • $42,512

    Average Salary

What Does A Direct Care 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 Direct Care 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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Direct Care Counselor jobs

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Direct Care Counselor Career Paths

Direct Care Counselor
Lead Teacher Bus Driver Direct Care Worker
Assistant Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Residential Counselor Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Staff Nurse
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Program Coordinator Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Staff Nurse Case Manager
Family Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Habilitation Specialist Service Coordinator Career Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Habilitation Specialist Home Health Aid Direct Support Professional
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Nurse Case Manager
Housing Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Sales Consultant Leasing Consultant
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Specialist Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Instructor Social Worker
Social Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Residential Counselor Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Developmental Aide 3.9 years
Juvenile Counselor 2.8 years
Teacher Counselor 2.5 years
Direct Care Aide 2.2 years
Support Staff 2.2 years
Resource Counselor 2.2 years
Group Counselor 2.1 years
Residential Worker 2.1 years
Direct Care Worker 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Residential Aide 2.0 years
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Youth Counselor 1.8 years
Relief Counselor 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 11.4%
Cashier 8.1%
Counselor 4.4%
Volunteer 4.4%
Teacher 3.1%
Top Employers After
Case Manager 11.6%
Internship 5.4%
Counselor 4.3%
Therapist 3.4%
Supervisor 3.2%

Direct Care Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

67.0%

Male

30.7%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

79.9%

Hispanic or Latino

10.8%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

1.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.1%

French

17.4%

Portuguese

4.6%

Hindi

2.8%

Mandarin

2.8%

Italian

2.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Persian

1.8%

Arabic

1.8%

Swahili

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Somali

0.9%

Korean

0.9%

Khmer

0.9%

Igbo

0.9%

Yoruba

0.9%

Dari

0.9%

Bengali

0.9%

Berta

0.9%

Greek

0.9%
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Direct Care Counselor Education

Schools

Suffolk County Community College

18.8%

State University of New York Stony Brook

12.3%

University of Phoenix

6.8%

Central Connecticut State University

5.8%

Liberty University

5.2%

Nassau Community College

4.5%

Grand Valley State University

4.2%

Adelphi University

4.2%

Rhode Island College

3.6%

Fordham University

3.6%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.6%

Cambridge College

3.6%

Saint Joseph's College, New York

3.2%

Capella University

3.2%

Hunter Business School

3.2%

University of Rhode Island

2.9%

University of Connecticut

2.9%

University of Massachusetts - Boston

2.9%

Community College of Rhode Island

2.9%

Murray State University

2.6%
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Majors

Psychology

16.4%

Social Work

10.8%

Criminal Justice

9.1%

Nursing

8.3%

Human Services

7.7%

Business

7.5%

Liberal Arts

5.2%

Mental Health Counseling

5.1%

Sociology

4.5%

Medical Assisting Services

4.0%

Counseling Psychology

3.1%

Health Care Administration

2.9%

School Counseling

2.5%

Nursing Assistants

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Biology

1.8%

General Studies

1.7%

Management

1.6%

Communication

1.6%

Elementary Education

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.9%

Other

22.5%

Masters

20.8%

Associate

11.5%

Certificate

5.3%

Doctorate

1.8%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.9%
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Top Skills for A Direct Care Counselor

DailyLivingSkillsDirectCareServicesCrisisInterventionIndividualTreatmentPlansLifeSkillsTrainingDailyLivingActivitiesRecreationalActivitiesDevelopmentalDisabilitiesMedicalAppointmentsDirectSupervisionAdministerMedicationCPRADLPersonalHygieneIndependentLivingSkillsMentalHealthSocialSkillsPersonalCareAmapServicePlans

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Top Direct Care Counselor Skills

  1. Daily Living Skills
  2. Direct Care Services
  3. Crisis Intervention
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assisted consumers with daily living skills Escorted consumers to doctor's appointments and other scheduled appointments.
  • Provided direct care services to clients, ensuring appropriate and safe care was given
  • Provided direct care and crisis intervention.
  • Worked closely with therapist to implement individual treatment plans.
  • Provide guidance, supervision, mentoring, and life skills training to adolescent females residing in the Therapeutic Group Home.

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