How a Masters in Mental Health Counseling Can Help Your Career

If you’re considering a change of career, or want to develop your education, an online masters in mental health counseling could be the perfect option for you. Working as a mental health counselor is an extremely challenging but rewarding career and takes a certain type of person. With the skills, knowledge, and experiences provided by a masters in mental health counseling online, you could follow your passion for helping people and become a licensed mental health counselor. You may already have plenty of skills and qualities that are perfect for a mental health counselor and have gained these through previous education or experiences. A masters degree is the next step in pursuing your dream career.

What Is It?

A masters in mental health counseling online is an educational course that can equip you with the knowledge and skills required to become a mental health counselor. The course prepares you to undertake the licensing exams required to further your career in this field, with a mixture of online coursework and in-field practice. There are many different types of mental health counselors, and further qualifications, training, and experience may be needed before you can work in your desired field. However, many require a masters degree as a basic qualification to have before you advance further, so a masters in mental health counseling online is a step in the right direction.

Is It Right For You?

If you are passionate about helping others, a career in mental health counseling might be perfect for you. The masters in mental health counseling online is aimed at those who already have a bachelor’s degree, and are wanting to expand on their prior knowledge and experience. Many roles and positions within mental health counseling require a masters degree and a license as a very minimum to apply, and so you may need to undertake further examinations, qualifications, or placements in order to enter into the field that you want to. A masters degree can not only help you to progress in your career, but it will also help you to grow as a person, meet new people and make connections, develop interpersonal skills and have access to great practical fieldwork. As well as your previous qualifications, there are certain qualities and characteristics that make a great counselor. Some of these include:

Compassion

Compassion and empathy are characteristics that can help you excel as a counselor. You will have a lot of training and experience, but it is impossible for you to have experienced every situation and circumstance that your patients may be in. The ability to empathize, and visualize yourself in their shoes to understand their emotions, can help you to be a caring and nurturing counselor. You will need to learn to balance compassion with objectivity, to ensure that your personal beliefs do not interfere with your work, and also to make sure you do not become too involved beyond what your role requires.

Self-knowledge

Self-knowledge goes hand in hand with empathy and compassion. One of the downsides of being an empathetic person, and always trying to feel the emotions of others, is that you may lose sight of yourself and your own emotions. Knowing and understand who you are and how you work is important to make sure that you stay healthy yourself, and don’t overburden yourself with the emotions and situations of others. You will also need to know and acknowledge your own opinions, preferences, and biases so that these do not affect your work. Remaining objective is essential, especially if you are working with people who have committed crimes or have done negative things. You cannot let your personal judgments cloud your treatment of a patient.

Listening

One of the main qualities a counselor needs is to be a great listener. You will be the person to whom many issues, problems, and emotions are expressed, and your patients need to feel that you are actively listening and wanting to help them. As well as listening and understanding what is being said, you will also need to understand non-verbal cues, such as a patient’s body language. You will be working with a wide range of different people, and some will be more willing to talk and express themselves than others. Being able to read body language will help you understand what is not being said, helping you communicate with your patient, and encourage them to open up to you. 

Career Outcomes

Graduates of a masters in mental health counseling online can work in a variety of places and institutions once they have passed their licensing exams. These can include colleges, hospitals, public and private practices, residential care facilities, and correctional facilities. As well as these different locations, you can work with a large range of different people, specializing in various areas of mental health counseling. Common career outcomes of a masters in mental health counseling online include:

Young People

Working with young people comes with its own set of unique challenges, but is incredibly rewarding. You may find yourself working in a variety of different settings. These can include counseling the young person on a weekly basis, perhaps in a clinic or private office setting. You may also visit a young person at a residential facility where they live full time to provide mental health and behavioral help and counseling. As well as an understanding of counseling, you will also need experience and skills working with young people, such as assessing a young person and designing a treatment plan.

Substance Abuse

Being a mental health counselor for substance abuse involves a wide range of tasks and collaboration with other agencies and people, such as social workers or probation officers. Your job can involve making treatment plans, psychotherapy, case management, and behavioral interventions. You will also need to alter your services to match your client’s current circumstances, such as their level of substance abuse and how they are currently functioning, meaning that your work may change as your client does, from direct intervention to monitoring the maintenance of sobriety.

Veterans

Working as a mental health counselor for veterans requires a huge range of skills, and you will again work with many other individuals as part of a team. Complex mental health conditions will need to be treated often alongside physical ailments. There are many different assessments that need to take place before you begin working on a treatment plan, and you may find yourself working in individual and group therapy settings.

The Benefits Of Online Study

One of the main benefits of a masters degree in mental health counseling online is that it can be studied mostly over the internet. There is usually a combination of in-person teaching and practical fieldwork, as well as online coursework to complete. There are many benefits to studying online, and this can make the qualifications and education much more accessible to a wider range of people, particularly those who may not be able to study in-person full time. This could be due to a wide range of factors such as location, finances, and having other commitments such as a job or family. A couple of the benefits of studying for a masters in mental health counseling online include:

Location

Often your location may limit you to the courses offered by nearby institutions. If something you really want to study is offered elsewhere, you may not be able to study it for a variety of reasons, such as the cost of moving and commuting. When you study for a masters in mental health counseling online, your coursework can be completed at a distance, with travel and commuting being minimized greatly. This means that you can have access to a course that you may not have been able to previously due to your location. Travel can also be a factor that prevents people from pursuing higher education, as you may not have the means to commute. This could be due to not having a vehicle or being unable to afford to cost of daily commuting. Studying at home can help to reduce these costs significantly.

Pace And Flexibility

Being able to study flexibly and at your own pace is another great benefit of studying for a masters in mental health counseling online. Online degrees are often designed for those who are already working and wish to fit their education around this and other life commitments, such as family. The ability to have more control over your education can really help you absorb the information and enjoy the learning experience, as well as practicing those all-important soft skills such as organization and time management. Some people may find it difficult to learn in a physical classroom environment and may benefit from being able to work at their own pace, asking questions when they need to, and taking the time to go over content.

Skills

As well as the valuable technical skills that a masters in mental health counseling online will provide you with, there are also numerous soft skills that are developed when you learn online. Soft skills are non-technical, personal skills that help you to thrive in a workplace environment. They are extremely transferrable, and employers often look out for them on your resume. When you study online, many of these skills are used and developed to make you a well-rounded individual in whatever workplace and career you choose to pursue.

For example, two common soft skills are time management and motivation. When studying online, you will have to manage and organize your time to ensure that you get the work completed to a high standard whilst completing your other tasks and commitments such as a job. Scheduling your day and keeping on top of deadlines, getting into a routine, and being disciplined with your structure are all great ways to practically manage your time and will give you ideas and habits for the future so that you can continue to utilize these skills and methods that work for you.

The ability to motivate yourself is also incredibly useful and will be used a lot when you study online. As you are not in a physical classroom setting, and are most likely working from home, there are plenty of distractions to pull you away from your study. Again, being organized and disciplined will keep you on the right track, as will keeping your goals in mind. By having studied for a masters in mental health counseling online, you will have practical examples to put on your resume and give to potential employers in an interview setting.

Finances

Being a student comes with many costs and financial challenges, which is one of the main factors that puts people off of pursuing a line of study. Online courses are often more financially viable, as they can save you money in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the cost of the tuition itself is cheaper than it would be for a physical student. Many institutions offer financial support and benefits to their students, as they would if you were studying in person. Furthermore, the fact that you are studying from home means that you don’t need to worry so much about accommodation and commuting, and the costs these things incur. Being able to work at home not only gives you more control, but it also greatly lowers to cost of your education, which makes it much more accessible.

Becoming a mental health counselor is difficult and challenging, but can also be incredibly rewarding. If you love working with and helping people, this could be the ideal career option for you. There are many different specialties, jobs, and locations you could choose, and a masters in mental health counseling online can help you narrow down these choices and find a career that works for you. With a combination of technical knowledge, personal skills, and characteristics, you can work towards becoming a successful and effective mental health counselor, working with and helping a huge range of different people.

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