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Mental Health Counselors
SOC Code: 21-1014.00

Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. May help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging.

Sample of reported job titles: Behavior Analyst, Behavior Support Specialist (BSS), Case Manager, Clinician, Correctional Counselor, Counselor, Mental Health Counselor, Mental Health Specialist, Mental Health Therapist, Therapist

Tasks

  • Maintain confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment.
  • Encourage clients to express their feelings and discuss what is happening in their lives, helping them to develop insight into themselves or their relationships.
  • Collect information about clients through interviews, observation, or tests.
  • Assess patients for risk of suicide attempts.
  • Fill out and maintain client-related paperwork, including federal- and state-mandated forms, client diagnostic records, and progress notes.
  • Prepare and maintain all required treatment records and reports.
  • Counsel clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.
  • Guide clients in the development of skills or strategies for dealing with their problems.
  • Perform crisis interventions with clients.
  • Develop and implement treatment plans based on clinical experience and knowledge.
  • Evaluate clients' physical or mental condition, based on review of client information.
  • Act as client advocates to coordinate required services or to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Modify treatment activities or approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling programs on clients' progress in resolving identified problems and moving towards defined objectives.
  • Meet with families, probation officers, police, or other interested parties to exchange necessary information during the treatment process.
  • Discuss with individual patients their plans for life after leaving therapy.
  • Collaborate with other staff members to perform clinical assessments or develop treatment plans.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting clients or patients.
  • Monitor clients' use of medications.
  • Plan, organize, or lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation, or social activities for clients.
  • Learn about new developments in counseling by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, or establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.
  • Refer patients, clients, or family members to community resources or to specialists as necessary.
  • Gather information about community mental health needs or resources that could be used in conjunction with therapy.
  • Supervise other counselors, social service staff, assistants, or graduate students.
  • Plan or conduct programs to prevent substance abuse or improve community health or counseling services.
  • Coordinate or direct employee workshops, courses, or training about mental health issues.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Statistical software; Test interpretation software
  • Calendar and scheduling software - Scheduling software
  • Data base user interface and query software - Database software; Microsoft Access
  • Electronic mail software - Email software; Microsoft Outlook
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software - Management information systems MIS; Oracle PeopleSoft
  • Internet browser software - Microsoft Internet Explorer; Netscape Navigator; Web browser software
  • Medical software - Client information database systems; Patient electronic medical record EMR software
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Blood pressure cuff kits - Sphygmomanometers
  • Desktop computers
  • Electronic medical thermometers - Digital medical thermometers
  • Notebook computers
  • Personal computers
  • Scanners - Flatbed scanners

Knowledge

  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Philosophy and Theology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Skills

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Abilities

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Interests

  • Interest code: SIA
    • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
    • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
    • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Work Context

  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 84% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Contact With Others - 91% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Telephone - 79% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 72% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 84% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 82% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 58% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 64% responded “Every day.”
  • Electronic Mail - 63% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 42% responded “Important results.”
  • Time Pressure - 35% responded “Every day.”
  • Letters and Memos - 32% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 38% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 34% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 34% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity - 51% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Consequence of Error - 30% responded “Very serious.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 40% responded “Important.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 29% responded “Very important.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 41% responded “More than 40 hours.”

Education

Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
62%Master's degree
34%Bachelor's degree
1%Associate's degree

Work Styles

  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Work Values

  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $22.47 hourly, $46,740 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 158,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Much faster than average (15% or higher)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 21,600

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