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Become A Mental Health Therapist

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Working As A Mental Health Therapist

  • 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

  • $43,263

    Average Salary

What Does A Mental Health Therapist Do

A Mental Health Therapist is responsible for treating disorders of the mind. They interact with clients, provide therapy, and suggest specific services.

How To Become A Mental Health Therapist

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.


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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Real Mental Health Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Mental Health Therapist Northern Virginia Family Service Falls Church, VA Jan 06, 2014 $59,709
Mental Health Therapist Northern Virginia Family Service Falls Church, VA Jan 07, 2011 $56,641
Mental Health Therapist The Pious Society of The Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, Inc. Pompano Beach, FL Sep 17, 2016 $54,000
Mental Health Therapist Latino Community Development Agency Oklahoma City, OK Aug 15, 2016 $52,175
Mental Health Therapist Latino Community Development Agency Oklahoma City, OK Jan 10, 2016 $52,175
Mental Health Professionls-Therapist Asociacion de Puertorriquenos En Marcha, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Sep 16, 2011 $52,000
Mental Health Therapist Catholic Community Services of Western Washington Olympia, WA Aug 08, 2016 $50,067 -
Mental Health Therapist Middle Peninsula Juvenile Detention Commission Williamsburg, VA Aug 24, 2011 $50,000
Mental Health Therapist (Qmhp) La Clinica Del Valle Family Health Care Center, In Medford, OR Aug 14, 2012 $48,672 -
Mental Health Therapist (Qmhp) La Clinica Del Valle Family Health Care Center, In Medford, OR Jun 02, 2011 $48,672 -
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Top Skills for A Mental Health Therapist


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Top Mental Health Therapist Skills

  1. Individual Treatment Plans
  2. Mental Health Services
  3. Crisis Intervention Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided mental health screening, assessment, and individual treatment plans.
  • Conducted case management, Behavioral Health Court Assessments, and representation of the jail mental health services to the court.
  • Performed on call emergency crisis intervention services.
  • Provide treatment planning and therapeutic intervention for individuals with various mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.
  • Led intensive outpatient therapeutic groups for dual diagnosis adults.

Top Mental Health Therapist Employers

What Kind Of Companies Hire a Mental Health Therapist

  1. Pacific Clinics
  2. Fred Finch Youth Center
  3. The Center for Autism
  4. Youth Villages
  5. Advanced Behavioral Health
  6. St. Anthony Hospital
  7. South Bay Community Services
  8. Legacy Health
  9. Private Practice, LLC
  10. Mercy Behavioral Health
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Mental Health Therapist Videos

Mental Health: What Happens in Counseling?

Mental Health Counselor, Career Video from drkit.org

How to become a mental health professional