A mental health counselor is a trained professional who helps people attain their optimal mental health. The counselors are expected to provide therapeutic counseling to individuals or families. They help people find positive and appropriate strategies to cope, or treat the problems they face. A good mental health counselor should be one who is proficient in implementing the necessary counseling for a variety of problems. They should understand multiple counseling processes and theories. They should also be able to work in conjunction with other trained health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists, or social workers so as to plan the most effective therapy for a patient.
In my view, I think the current requirements for licensure is good enough to ensure the field provides sufficient services. Candidates must possess a master’s degree in mental health counseling or other recommended area of specialization. This should reflect a curriculum that is consistent with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The candidate must also have a two year experience of supervised post-master’s experience and should have passed the National Board for Certified Counselors examination. They may specialize in a particular field such as career counseling, marriage counseling or substance abuse. The licensure requirement differs according to the state and the place they work. For example, some states require school counselors to have both counseling and teaching certificates (smith, 2006).
For a license renewal, continued education hours are required after every two years. It is important because with further graduate education, they have a chance for career advancement. They may become directors or supervisors of counseling and guidance services. Some also move into research or consulting services. For one to be a competent mental health counselor, he/she should have a strong desire to help others and be able to inspire trust, respect, and confidence. They should be able to work independently, or as a team. They should also follow the code of ethics in association with their respective certifications. Smith (2006) asserts that they must possess physical and emotional energy so as to handle the different problems they address daily because these problems can cause stress.
In conclusion, mental health counselors make the use of a psycho-educational model to counsel clients in part with the traditional model for assessment and diagnosis. They make a very important part of our society.