If you love helping and working with people but don’t know how to turn this into a career, becoming a mental health counselor could be the perfect role for you. There are plenty of different jobs within this industry, and each requires a high level of education, skill, and passion. A masters in mental health counseling online can help you to gain these skills and qualifications to become a successful and effective counselor in whichever field you choose to work in.
How to become to a counselor
A masters in mental health counseling online is a degree aimed at those who already hold a bachelor’s degree. You may be wanting to continue your pursuit of a counseling career, in which case this is a logical next step to becoming a fully licensed and qualified counselor. You may also be working in a similar or different field and be looking for a change of job. A masters in mental health counseling online can help you build upon existing knowledge or skills to follow your passion for working with people. The different roles within counseling require varying levels of qualifications, licensure, and experience, so it is important to do your research to make sure you are prepared and eligible for the career you want.
Studying a masters in mental health counseling online combines in-person fieldwork and internships with online learning and coursework to deliver a flexible, challenging course with a high level of teaching. It prepares you to sit the licensing exams, helping you on your way to becoming a licensed counselor and giving you opportunities you may not have access to otherwise. You will also gain many useful personal skills that will help you in the workplace and will help towards making you an effective and capable graduate.
Why Take This Course Online?
Online study has many benefits that may make a masters in mental health counseling online the perfect course for you. It is designed for those who are working or have other life commitments, such as a family. Online study allows you to study while still maintaining these other commitments. Becoming a full-time student and studying in person may not be achievable for many people. This is due to a huge range of factors such as finances, location, travel, and lifestyle.
Fortunately, online courses allow you to pursue your education flexibly and often at a lower cost. There are many costs involved in becoming a student, such as travel, accommodation, living costs, and of course, tuition fees. Many online courses are cheaper than in-person courses and still offer financial support to their students, as well as student benefits such as discounts. Furthermore, as you will usually be studying from home, you will not have to worry as much about the costs involved in commuting and renting student accommodation. A masters in mental health counseling online combines online study with in-person fieldwork and internships, which gives you a great mixture of teaching styles.
Your location can also be a barrier as to your choice of education. You could be limited to whatever your local university is offering, and you may be unable to study what you want to if they do not offer it. By studying online, you have access to a greater range of courses and institutions, leaving you free to choose the course you truly want to study. You are also free to create your own studying environment, which can have a huge impact on your educational experience.
The flexibility offered by a masters in mental health counseling online can let you work at your own pace, fit your study around your life and achieve your goals in a way that works for you. You don’t have to put the rest of your life on hold in order to pursue this qualification. The multitasking and organizational skills you will need to study online are also very useful as a counselor, as you will often have multiple clients and will need to treat each one with the same level of focus and expertise. A masters in mental health counseling online can help you to develop these useful skills and provide you with practical examples to give in interviews and to put on your resume.
Is it for you?
As well as the qualifications you may need to apply for a masters in mental health counseling online, there are certain characteristics and skills that a person needs in order to become a good counselor. You may find that you already have many of them and just need to learn how to utilize them in a counseling setting. These traits include:
It is essential to have good communication and listening skills as a counselor. You will need to be focused and attentive to your clients, actively listening to them and also picking up on any non-verbal cues and body language. You will also need to be able to adapt your communication depending on who you are talking to. As a counselor, you will be interacting with many different types of people, such as patients, doctors, social workers, and probation officers, and you need to be able to communicate effectively with all of them.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the position of another in order to feel and understand their emotions. This is a valuable skill to have, as you will need to be able to assist a broad range of people with different issues and experiences, and you will not have been able to experience them all yourself. Showing empathy helps you to connect with your clients and understand them, enabling you to offer helpful and effective counseling.
In many types of counseling, you will be one member of a multidisciplinary team, which means you have to be able to work well with others. This will allow you to deliver high-quality treatment effectively and helpfully for your clients while working with other professionals that may be involved. Teamwork and communication go hand in hand to make you a great counselor and a valuable team member.
You may know you want to be a mental health counselor but are unsure as to what area you want to work in. A masters in mental health counseling online can help expose you to different career options, which can help make your choice simpler. Different jobs have different entry requirements, but a masters in mental health counseling online can provide you with high-quality skills and knowledge that is applicable across the majority of counseling roles.
- Young people and children
When working as a mental health counselor for young people and children, you may be assessing and diagnosing, making treatment plans, delivering counseling directly at regular sessions, or working with the client in a residential facility in which they are living. Tasks can also include helping the client to develop the skills they may need in order to leave the facility.
A mental health counselor for veterans is often part of a larger team, working to treat mental health problems alongside healthcare professionals who are treating any physical ailments that are often present. You may be performing many assessments and providing psychotherapy and counseling services in individual or group therapy sessions. You may be working with other healthcare professionals or social workers in order to help your client.
- Substance abuse
When you work with clients who are experiencing substance abuse, you will again be working as part of a larger team that may include other healthcare professionals, as well as social workers or probation officers. You will need to alter your services as your client changes, making sure you are matching your counseling services to their level of functionality and abuse. This can mean that your work moves from direct intervention to monitoring sobriety and making sure it is maintained.
Where can you work?
When looking after your clients, you have multiple locations that you could choose to work. This includes:
- Correctional facilities
As a correctional counselor you will be working with inmates in a variety of settings, such as state and federal prisons, residential facilities, hospitals, or after they have been released. The main goal is to create relapse-prevention plans, as well as prepare the inmate for education or employment. You may make recommendations or referrals to different prison programs and monitor your client’s progress. It is common to be working with inmates with dual-diagnosis issues such as substance abuse, so you will have to be incredibly skilled, a good listener and communicator, and a role model for your client, among the many other skills you will need to work in this type of counselor role.
- Residential facilities
A residential facility can be many things, such as a care home, university, correctional facility, or shelter. As a residential counselor, your duties will vary depending on where you are working. General duties include delivering individual or group therapy services, monitoring residents and clients, organizing activities, assisting with transport, and helping to develop life skills that can help residents outside of the facility. You will mainly be concerned with the safety and needs of the residents and will need to keep up-to-date records on your patients.
You may also work as a counselor in a hospital or psychiatric hospital. Here your tasks will vary greatly, from assessing and diagnosing treatments to educating patients and their families. Your work may focus a lot on preparing your clients for life after they have been discharged. This can include educating them, as well as making recommendations and referrals to programs, schemes, activities, or organizations that they will benefit from.
Multipurpose skills for a range of careers
As well as these career outcomes, studying a masters in mental health online can provide you with valuable life skills that you can use in many different areas of your life, such as the people you may meet and work with and the deeper levels of education. You will have access to resources and opportunities that you may not have outside of a degree, and these can help you make valuable connections and grow your experience.
As well as the skills you learn on the course that will help you become a great counselor, there are also plenty of general life skills that a masters in mental health counseling online can equip you with. Soft skills are a set of transferrable, non-technical skills that help you excel in the workplace and are looked upon favorably by employers. When you study online, it comes with a whole new set of challenges that you may not encounter as much when you study in person. You will need to be incredibly organized, with great time management and self-motivation to ensure that you are completing your work on time and to a high standard. Furthermore, you will need to be disciplined to make sure you stay focused and don’t get distracted.
These can open the doors to plenty of other careers, including therapy, school counselor, life coach, guidance counselor, marriage therapist, community support worker, and more. With hard work, you could even work your way up to the clinical director of your own practice.
Taking your degree
There are plenty of benefits and different outcomes to studying a masters in mental health counseling online, and the course can help you grow both professionally and personally. A degree is valuable both as a qualification and a life experience.
As the majority of mental health counseling jobs require a masters in mental health online degree as a minimum qualification, it is important to consider this as a vital step in your career journey. A masters in mental health counseling online is a demanding course that can help you to pursue your dream of working with and supporting people. There are plenty of different career outcomes, and the skills you learn will be very transferrable in many different fields. A masters can help you understand your strengths and the roles in which these strengths will be suited to. You will have access to opportunities and resources that are incredibly valuable, allowing you to put your knowledge into practice and gain essential experiences. Most careers in mental health counseling require you to have a degree of this kind, so it is a natural next step in your counseling career.