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Become A Residential Counselor

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Working As A Residential 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 Residential 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 Residential 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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Residential Counselor Career Paths

Residential Counselor
Social Worker Program Manager General Manager
Area Director
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Instructor
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Technician Behavioral Health Technician Case Manager
Case Manager/Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Program Coordinator Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Coach Substitute Teacher Toddler Teacher
Child Care Director
5 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Licensed Practical Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Patient Care Assistant Correction Officer Corrections Counselor
Correctional Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Assistant Director Service Director
Director Of Support Services
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Technician Registered Nurse Case Manager
Family Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Licensed Practical Nurse Staff Nurse Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Specialist Direct Support Professional
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Program Manager Assistant Director
Owner/Director
7 Yearsyrs
Counselor Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Program Coordinator Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Direct Support Professional Case Manager Social Worker
Senior Social Worker
6 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Therapist
Therapist And Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Job Coach Employment Specialist Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
Vocational Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Juvenile Counselor 2.9 years
Residential Worker 2.1 years
Residential Aide 2.0 years
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Relief Counselor 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Residential Counselor
Internship 14.3%
Cashier 8.5%
Counselor 5.9%
Volunteer 5.4%
Teacher 3.2%
Supervisor 2.5%
Top Careers After Residential Counselor
Case Manager 13.6%
Internship 9.1%
Counselor 7.9%
Clinician 4.4%
Therapist 4.4%
Teacher 4.1%
Volunteer 3.1%

Do you work as a Residential Counselor?

Residential Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

67.1%

Male

30.7%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

63.3%

Hispanic or Latino

13.9%

Black or African American

12.2%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.9%

French

13.6%

Portuguese

6.0%

German

2.6%

Chinese

2.4%

Italian

2.1%

Mandarin

1.5%

Hindi

1.4%

Russian

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%

Korean

1.1%

Yoruba

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Polish

0.8%

Arabic

0.8%

Swahili

0.6%

Dakota

0.6%

Hawaiian

0.5%

Amharic

0.5%

Dutch

0.3%
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Residential Counselor Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.9%

Liberty University

10.9%

Capella University

8.1%

Walden University

6.1%

Grand Canyon University

5.4%

Bridgewater State University

5.4%

Bristol Community College

5.3%

Norfolk State University

4.4%

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

4.4%

University of Massachusetts - Boston

4.1%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.0%

Ashford University

3.9%

Temple University

3.6%

Strayer University

3.5%

Rhode Island College

3.3%

Northeastern University

3.2%

Howard University

3.2%

Portland State University

3.2%

Springfield College

3.2%

Kean University

3.0%
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Majors

Psychology

19.0%

Social Work

13.0%

Criminal Justice

10.2%

Human Services

7.6%

Business

7.1%

Sociology

5.3%

Mental Health Counseling

5.0%

Nursing

4.9%

School Counseling

4.5%

Counseling Psychology

4.3%

Education

2.5%

Health Care Administration

2.5%

Liberal Arts

2.5%

Medical Assisting Services

2.3%

Clinical Psychology

1.8%

General Studies

1.8%

Human Development

1.6%

Nursing Assistants

1.4%

Special Education

1.4%

Rehabilitation Science

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.1%

Masters

27.6%

Other

18.7%

Associate

9.0%

Certificate

4.2%

Doctorate

1.8%

Diploma

1.2%

License

0.4%
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Real Residential Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Residential Counselor Leman Manhattan Preparatory School, LLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $45,000
Residential Counselor Leman Manhattan Preparatory School, LLC New York, NY Sep 01, 2016 $45,000
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Jan 08, 2016 $42,765 -
$76,149
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Jan 11, 2016 $42,765 -
$76,149
Residential Counselor Justice Resource Institute, Inc. Tewksbury, MA Aug 01, 2013 $39,083
ABA Counselor-Residential Melmark, Inc. Dracut, MA Aug 15, 2015 $37,170 -
$60,320
Residential Counselor Justice Resource Institute, Inc. Tewksbury, MA Aug 01, 2010 $36,712
Residential Cottage Counselor Youth Opportunity Center, Inc. Muncie, IN Sep 22, 2016 $35,000 -
$45,000
Residential Counselor The Learning Center for Deaf Children Framingham, MA Oct 01, 2010 $32,897
MH Residential Counselor/Supervisor II The Bridge of Central Massachusetts, Inc. Southborough, MA Jan 03, 2010 $32,760
Residential Counselor Eastern Appalachian Teen Challenge, Inc. Fincastle, VA Jul 29, 2010 $32,420
Residential Counselor Eastern Appalachian Teen Challenge, Inc. Fincastle, VA Aug 31, 2010 $32,420
Residential Counselor Justice Resource Institute, Inc. Tewksbury, MA Mar 15, 2010 $28,642
Residential Counselor Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. Fort Myers, FL Oct 01, 2010 $26,880

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Residential Counselor

Average Yearly Salary
$38,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
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%
$51,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
LifeSpan
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.2 years
How much does a Residential Counselor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Residential Counselor in the United States is $38,401 per year or $18 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $51,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Residential Counselor?

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Top Skills for A Residential Counselor

  1. Crisis Intervention
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Treatment Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Ensured required documentation was appropriately written and maintained including crisis interventions, daily shift reports, and accident/incident reporting.
  • Spearheaded the development of a residential rehabilitation program serving teenagers with chronic behavioral issues in collaboration with the program manager.
  • Recorded significant interactions and behavioral data to complete paperwork and develop treatment plans.
  • Supported and reinforced the therapeutic plan of the youth by providing guidance and direction to residents in their daily living activities.
  • Assessed and monitored mental health stability and provided crisis intervention.

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Top 10 Best States for Residential Counselors

  1. New Jersey
  2. Alaska
  3. Maine
  4. Wyoming
  5. Nevada
  6. Connecticut
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Hawaii
  10. North Dakota
  • (314 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (85 jobs)
  • (178 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (760 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)

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