Like campus-based students, distance learning students in mental health counseling bachelor's degree programs have instructors, class meetings, projects and tests, but in an entirely online format. With a distance learning program, students are able to complete all degree program requirements, with the exception of any practical experiences, virtually anywhere with no face-to-face instruction needed. Courses are taken electronically through teleconferencing and asynchronous online discussion forums.
Master's degrees are also available online, though some of these programs may require in-person counseling courses at a campus location for a short period in addition to internships.
Students completing a distance learning bachelor's degree program in mental health counseling are exposed to methods in caseload management, advocacy, intake interviewing, report writing and record keeping. Some schools offer online counseling programs as part of a specialization within social work or psychology degree programs.
At the bachelor's degree level, online students may complete a practical experience. In addition, students majoring in counseling with a mental health concentration often explore topics such as:
- Family and Marriage Therapy
- Social Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Ethnic and Minority Relations
Considered the entry-level education in the counseling profession, a master's degree in mental health counseling is a more specialized degree program. Students often have the opportunity to participate in internships and build credible field experience. Some programs also require completion of a comprehensive exam.
Although distance learning students are not required to attend physical classes at a college, they may be required to participate in clinical counseling courses at a campus location for a short period, often a few days or a week at a time during the summer. Courses include:
- Ethical Practices in Counseling
- Ethical Research in Counseling
- Advanced Psychology
- Human Development and Theory
Mental health counselor positions require a college degree and state licensure. However, a bachelor's degree in mental health counseling benefits individuals looking to enter the mental health counseling profession as the following:
- Mental health aides
- Behavioral health technicians
- Behavioral health coaches
Graduates of a master's degree program may pursue mental health counseling careers such as:
- Mental health therapists
- Clinical psychologists
- School psychologists
Throughout mental health counseling bachelor's and master's degree programs, students utilize online course delivery systems to access coursework covering topics like social psychology, abnormal psychology, ethical practices and human development. They also complete on-site requirements, like internships and brief instructional sessions.