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Become A Mental Health Clinician

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Working As A Mental Health Clinician

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $55,013

    Average Salary

What Does A Mental Health Clinician Do

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One group of social workers—clinical social workers—also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.   

Duties

Social workers typically do the following:

  • Identify people and communities in need of help
  • Assess clients’ needs, situations, strengths, and support networks to determine their goals
  • Help clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment
  • Research, refer, and advocate for community resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and healthcare to assist and improve a client’s well-being
  • Respond to crisis situations such as child abuse and mental health emergencies
  • Follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved
  • Evaluate services provided to ensure that they are effective
  • Develop and evaluate programs and services to ensure that basic client needs are met
  • Provide psychotherapy services

Social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Social workers may work with children, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses and addictions. Their work varies based on the type of client they are working with.

Some social workers work with groups, community organizations, and policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions. This focus of work is referred to as macro social work.

Advocacy is an important aspect of social work. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the social work profession on local, state, and national levels.

The following are examples of types of social workers:

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help families find housing or services, such as childcare, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to reunite families.

Clinical social workers—also called licensed clinical social workers—diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression. They provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy; they work with clients to develop strategies to change behavior or cope with difficult situations; and they refer clients to other resources or services, such as support groups or other mental health professionals. Clinical social workers can develop treatment plans with the client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals and may adjust the treatment plan if necessary based on their client’s progress. They may also provide mental healthcare to help children and families cope with changes in their lives, such as divorce or other family problems.

Many clinical social workers work in private practice. In these settings, clinical social workers also perform administrative and recordkeeping tasks, such as working with insurance companies in order to receive payment for their services. Some work in a group practice with other social workers or mental health professionals.

School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.

Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities. In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health.

Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work:

  • Geriatric social workers help senior citizens and their families. They help clients find services, such as programs that provide older adults with meals or with home healthcare. They may provide information about assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or work with older adults in those settings. They help clients and their families make plans for possible health complications or for where clients will live if they can no longer care for themselves.
  • Hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing pain and other symptoms associated with serious illness. Hospice is a type of palliative care for people who are dying. Social workers in this setting provide and find services, such as support groups or grief counselors, to help patients and their families cope with the illness or disease.
  • Medical social workers in hospitals help patients and their families by linking patients with resources in the hospital and in their own community. They may work with medical staff to create discharge plans, make referrals to community agencies, facilitate support groups, or conduct followup visits with patients once they have been discharged.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness. Many clinical social workers function in these roles as well.

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How To Become A Mental Health Clinician

Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.

A BSW prepares students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Some positions require a master’s degree in social work (MSW), which generally takes 2 years to complete. Master’s degree programs in social work prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills. All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.

A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required in order to enter a master’s degree program in social work. Although a degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work to earn their master’s degree in 1 year.

In 2015, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Some universities offer doctoral programs in social work, where students can earn a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. Most doctoral programs in social work require students to have a master’s in social work and experience in the field. Many doctor’s students go on to work as postsecondary teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states have licensure or certification requirements for nonclinical social workers. Requirements vary by state.

All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some states provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies. Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.

Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, contact the Association of Social Work Boards.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Clients talk to social workers about challenges in their lives. To effectively help, social workers must be able to listen to and understand their clients’ needs.

Empathy. Social workers often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different groups of people is essential for social workers. They need strong people skills to foster healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.

Organizational skills. Social workers must help and manage multiple clients, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment.

Problem-solving skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to their clients’ problems.

Time-management skills. Social workers often have many clients and administrative responsibilities. They must effectively manage their time to provide adequate service to all of their clients.

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Mental Health Clinician Jobs

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Mental Health Clinician Career Paths

Mental Health Clinician
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
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Director Psychologist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Clinical Social Worker Director Of Social Services
Community Service Director
6 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Clinical Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
School Social Worker Therapist Service Director
Director Of Support Services
10 Yearsyrs
Program Director Registered Nurse Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
School Social Worker Medical Social Worker Clinician
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Director Nurse Practitioner Registered Nurse Supervisor
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director Of Social Services Registered Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Clinical Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Supervisor Utilization Review Coordinator
Utilities Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Mental Health Clinician?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Clinician 3.8 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Clinician 2.6 years
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Health Therapist 2.3 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 13.2%
Clinician 9.4%
Therapist 8.1%
Counselor 7.0%
Volunteer 2.5%
Top Employers After
Clinician 13.4%
Therapist 10.9%
Counselor 5.1%
Internship 2.8%

Do you work as a Mental Health Clinician?

Mental Health Clinician Demographics

Gender

Female

74.0%

Male

24.3%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

60.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

10.9%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.2%

French

6.3%

Italian

3.2%

Portuguese

3.2%

Hindi

1.9%

Korean

1.9%

Hebrew

1.9%

Tagalog

1.9%

Chinese

1.9%

German

1.9%

Arabic

1.9%

Romanian

1.3%

Hmong

1.3%

Filipino

1.3%

Greek

1.3%

Urdu

1.3%

Cherokee

0.6%

Mandarin

0.6%

Hawaiian

0.6%

Thai

0.6%
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Mental Health Clinician Education

Schools

Liberty University

9.1%

Capella University

8.4%

University of Phoenix

7.1%

New York University

6.1%

Fordham University

6.1%

Walden University

5.8%

National University

4.8%

University of Southern California

4.8%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.6%

Columbia University

4.6%

Boston University

4.6%

Springfield College

4.3%

Southern Connecticut State University

4.1%

Arizona State University

4.1%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

3.8%

Lesley University

3.8%

Boston College

3.5%

Radford University

3.5%

California State University - Fresno

3.5%

Stephen F Austin State University

3.5%
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Majors

Social Work

27.9%

Counseling Psychology

12.9%

Mental Health Counseling

11.0%

Psychology

10.6%

School Counseling

10.0%

Clinical Psychology

7.6%

Family Therapy

4.9%

Nursing

2.2%

Human Services

2.0%

Education

1.9%

Sociology

1.9%

Business

1.3%

Rehabilitation Science

1.0%

Health Care Administration

1.0%

Criminal Justice

0.8%

Public Health

0.6%

Behavioral Sciences

0.6%

Human Resources Management

0.6%

Human Development

0.6%

Educational Leadership

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

71.6%

Bachelors

10.9%

Doctorate

7.6%

Other

6.2%

Certificate

2.2%

Associate

0.8%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.4%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Mental Health Clinician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Forensic Mental Health Clinician University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Avenel, NJ Aug 31, 2011 $72,261
Forensic Mental Health Clinician University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Avenel, NJ Dec 07, 2009 $70,448
Mental Health Clinician New Beginnings Today Atlanta, GA Apr 01, 2010 $68,871
Licensed Mental Health Clinician The Center for Aging Resources San Diego, CA Oct 19, 2009 $60,000
Behavioral Health Clinician II Ventura County Oxnard, CA Jun 01, 2015 $58,632 -
$68,440
Mental Health Clinician Counseling & Assessment Clinic of Worcester, LLC Worcester, MA Apr 01, 2013 $57,393
Mental Health Clinician Counseling & Assessment Clinic of Worcester, LLC Worcester, MA Mar 15, 2014 $57,393
Mental Health Clinician/Psychiatric Social Worke Unity Health Care, Inc. Washington, DC Jul 25, 2009 $56,140
Clinician II-Mental Health Bill Wilson Center San Jose, CA Nov 07, 2016 $51,314
Clinician II-Mental Health Bill Wilson Center San Jose, CA Sep 20, 2016 $51,314
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Mental Health Clinician Awake and Aware, LLC Albuquerque, NM Nov 01, 2015 $51,000 -
$55,000
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Mental Health Clinician Awake and Aware, LLC Albuquerque, NM Nov 01, 2015 $50,000
Mental Health Clinician The Institute for Family Health New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $49,000
Behavioral Health Clinician II Ventura County CA Apr 26, 2015 $48,824 -
$68,440
Mental Health Clinician Joaquin G. Martinez M.D. Medical Group Pa Houston, TX Dec 02, 2016 $48,776
Mental Health Clinician, School Based Edgewood Center for Children and Families San Francisco, CA Sep 09, 2014 $46,800
Mental Health Clinician III University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Piscataway, NJ Sep 06, 2010 $46,764
Mental Health Clinician Edgewood Center for Children and Families San Carlos, CA Aug 09, 2010 $46,500
Mental Health Clinician East Bay Agency for Children Oakland, CA Sep 19, 2014 $45,360
Mental Health Clinician The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX Oct 04, 2010 $45,279
Mental Health Clinician Bestcare Treatment Services, Inc. Madras, OR Jun 09, 2016 $45,142
Mental Health Clinician Asian Pacific Community Counseling Sacramento, CA Sep 18, 2011 $42,182
Mental Health Clinician Asian Community Mental Health Board Oakland, CA May 09, 2016 $42,000
Clinician/Mental Health Services Childnet Youth & Family Services, Inc. Long Beach, CA Sep 14, 2011 $41,600
Behavioral Health Services Clinician I Asian Community Mental Health Board Oakland, CA Sep 24, 2015 $40,518

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Top Skills for A Mental Health Clinician

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  1. Mental Health
  2. Group Therapy Sessions
  3. Treatment Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Conducted clinical interviews to complete mental health assessments to facilitate emergency foster care placement.
  • Created curriculum and established group therapy sessions with an emphasis on exercise and motivation.
  • Conducted clinical assessment, developed diagnoses, and participated in developing person/family centered treatment plans with client families.
  • Provided crisis intervention counseling and psychological evaluations, as well as intake and admissions paperwork for the hospital.
  • Prepared comprehensive clinical reports, performed intake assessments and presented cases in individual and small group supervision.

How Would You Rate Working As a Mental Health Clinician?

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Top 10 Best States for Mental Health Clinicians

  1. Connecticut
  2. Nevada
  3. Maine
  4. Minnesota
  5. New Jersey
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Washington
  8. California
  9. North Dakota
  10. District of Columbia
  • (246 jobs)
  • (95 jobs)
  • (131 jobs)
  • (399 jobs)
  • (323 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (346 jobs)
  • (1,477 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (54 jobs)

Top Mental Health Clinician Employers

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Jobs From Top Mental Health Clinician Employers

Mental Health Clinician Videos

Mental Health Counselor, Career Video from drkit.org

6_Family Mental Health Clinician - Connecting with Carers

A Day in the Life - Drug/Alcohol Counselor

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