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Behavioral Health Certification and Certificate Program Options

Read about certificate programs and certification options in behavioral health. Find out about educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Behavioral health professionals provide counsel and advice to clients who are living with mental health or social behavioral disorders. Individuals who receive a certificate in the field can go on to work as case managers, behavioral health technicians, counselors and care workers. Behavioral health certificate programs are offered through both 2-year community colleges and 4-year universities.

Students explore appropriate and unique counseling methods, including group counseling, grief and bereavement counseling, child counseling and art therapy. Aspiring behavior health specialists also learn how to counsel individuals working through issues of violence and abuse, chemical dependency or similar concerns. Graduates are often required to complete a supervised internship experience or submit to hospice volunteer training. Those interesting in counseling must obtain licensing as required by state law, and licensing typically requires graduate coursework. However, some states offer certifications in behavioral health.

Education Prerequisites

Students should have a high school diploma and a GPA of at least 2.0 before applying to enroll in a certificate program in behavioral health. Individuals who are interested in enrolling in such a program should also have a strong determination to help people and should not easily shy away from difficult issues.

Program Coursework

Students might learn how behavior can directly affect human health. They also study ways of counseling individuals or groups who are living with the ill effects of certain behavioral patterns.

In addition to completing a required clinical component, students enrolled in a certificate program in behavioral health must complete courses covering the theories of behavioral health, counseling, psychology and addiction. Some examples include:

  • Introduction to behavioral health
  • Human relations and counseling
  • Individual and group dynamics
  • Case report writing
  • Developmental psychology
  • Chemical dependency counseling
  • Violence and abuse counseling
  • Grief counseling
  • Counseling multicultural populations

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There are several potential career paths open to individuals interested in the field of behavioral health. Some of these might include:

  • Social worker
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Paraprofessional counselor
  • Family advocate
  • Behavioral health technician

Earning a certificate in behavioral health could also lead to work as a social and human service assistant. These professionals earned median annual wages of $28,850 as of 2012, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also notes that employment opportunities for social and human service assistants were expected to grow 28% between 2010 and 2020, which was a much faster-than-average rate of job growth.

Certification Options

Behavioral health professionals who are interested in the counseling field are typically required to gain licensure from the state before they can practice in the field. Requirements vary from state to state, but most require some amount of graduate coursework. Some states have their own certification organizations for the field of behavioral health, such as the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification or the Arizona Department of Health Services' Mental and Behavioral Health Licensing Office.

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