A licensed clinical professional counselor helps patients by guiding, supporting and rehabilitating them. As mental health practitioners, these professionals have a wide variety of specialties, which require that students fulfill work requirements and pass an exam.
Licensed clinical professional counselors use therapeutic techniques to guide, support and rehabilitate individuals and groups. Counselors work within a range of specialties, including marriage and family, educational, vocational and mental health counseling. They can find employment in schools, community health centers, private practices and hospitals. Most counselors need to hold a master's degree, fulfill work experience requirements and pass an exam. They must also obtain proper state licensure required for their desired specialty.
|Career||Mental Health Counselor||Marriage and Family Therapist||Educational and Vocational Counselor|
|Education Requirements||Master's degree||Master's degree||Master's degree|
|Other Requirements||License to practice||License to practice||License to practice|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||20%||15%||8%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$41,880||$48,600||$53,660|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Licensed clinical professional counselors may choose from a variety of specific counseling careers. Career options include mental health counselors, who may treat individuals, families or groups; Marriage and family therapists who may treat families and couples; and educational and vocational counselors who may treat adolescents and adults. Read on to learn more about each specific career.
Mental Health Counselor
Licensed clinical professional counselors in mental health use psychological techniques to modify a patient's behavior and perception, as well as to improve communication and prevent crises. They treat patients with mild to severe mental, emotional and behavioral problems such as trauma, addiction and substance abuse. Clinical mental health counselors also work in conjunction with psychiatrists for individuals with medication needs. Treatment sessions can vary between individual, family and group therapy.
Licensed clinical professional counselors working in mental health may find employment in community health organizations, private practices and hospitals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the employment opportunities for mental health counselors were growing faster than average at a predicted increase of 20% between 2014-2024. In May 2015, the median wage for mental health counselors was $41,880.
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Marriage and Family Therapist
Marriage and family therapists assess and treat mental and emotional problems in families and couples. By utilizing principles and techniques of family systems, marriage and family therapists improve perception, behavior and communication. They treat families dealing with mental illness and substance abuse, as well as those in crisis. Treatment may alternate between group and individual therapy sessions.
Marriage and family counselors find employment in outpatient clinics, hospitals, private offices and family service organizations. The BLS expected 15% employment growth between 2014 and 2024 for this occupation. The earnings in May 2015 were $48,600 , with the highest wages in state government services, according to the BLS.
Educational and Vocational Counselor
Educational and vocational counselors advise and evaluate personal, academic, social and career issues in children, adolescents and adults. They use tools such as aptitude testing and counseling sessions to assess an individual's abilities, interests and talents for developing attainable school and work goals. They also manage educational and career programs. Educational and vocational counselors typically work with individuals with social and academic problems, as well as special needs.
Job positions for educational and vocational counselors can be found in schools and community health organizations. The demand for school and career counselors was expected to grow by 8% between 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported the median wage in May 2015 to be $53,660.
Although the licensure requirements vary according to a counselor's specialty and the U.S. state in which he or she practices, there are some commonalities. Most counselors need to hold a master's degree, fulfill work experience requirements and pass an exam. Counselors working in schools may need to have teaching certification in addition to a counseling license. It's important for counselor candidates to look up the state requirements for their desired specialty to ensure that they're qualified to obtain a license.
Licensed clinical professional counselor is a great career choice for anyone who likes helping others, is interested in mental health and has great interpersonal communication skills. Aspiring clinical professional counselors can choose to specialize in mental health, marriage and family or educational and vocational counseling.