Majors for Mental Health Counseling: What should you do?

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Learn about the best majors for mental health counseling so you can make the right decision before enrolling in college. Mental health counseling can be an enriching career, but you’ll need to know where to start.

So, it is not surprising that, with so many degree options available, choosing the right major is difficult, especially with so many other factors to consider, such as cost and location.

Thus, this blog will give you an idea about some famous majors for mental health counseling and their basic requirements.

mental health counseling courses

The Best Majors

Although there’s no one best major to earn when pursuing a career in mental health, specific majors may make you more employable. For example, if you’re becoming a licensed professional counselor, it would help you study psychology.

The demand for psychologists is raised to 18% by 2022, much faster than average. So, psychology majors learn about human behavior and mental processes. That uses in some types of therapy, such as hypnosis or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

You might also want to consider sociology or social work; these two fields have high projected job growth rates and have mental health applications.

Furthermore, you can also consider majoring in early childhood education. Children under age 6 make up a significant portion of those who require mental health care.

Famous majors for mental health counseling degrees

Substance Abuse Counseling

Most positions in substance abuse counseling require that you have a Master’s degree, like a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) or a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology (MACP).

Most importantly, substance abuse counselors (SACs) must complete state-approved training programs before being licensed by the state.

Typical employers include outpatient treatment centers, drug rehabilitation facilities, correctional facilities, hospitals, and clinics. Moreover, substance abuse counselors typically work with clients to prevent and treat alcohol and drug addiction.

Besides providing immediate treatment, they also perform administrative duties, like keeping client records and billing insurance companies. Most SACs work full time; however, some are self-employed or freelance their services independently.

Human Services

Every graduate from a degree program in human services (H.S.) will be equipped with a vast wealth of knowledge about working with people. So, degrees in human services provide students with a broad foundation of information about groups like ethnicity and culture.

It also gives general skills like communication and professionalism. The major teaches students how to help individuals deal with personal problems and understand and recognize social patterns.

Above all, human services majors might work in group homes or daycares after graduation since they gain experience communicating with others on their feet. The H.S. is one of the students’ unfamiliar majors for mental health counseling.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

A Master’s Degree with an emphasis on Clinical Mental Health Counseling will make you eligible to become a Certified Mental Health Counselor (CMHC).

Usually, this title is gained after 3,000 hours of experience or 400 practicum hours and passing a state licensing exam. A CMHC can work with clients under supervision and help supervise other counselors.

A clinical mental health counseling degree involves human growth and development courses, diagnosing disorders, family systems, and cultural issues. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree can usually find entry-level positions as counselors or therapists.

Marriage and Family Therapy

A marriage and family therapist (MFT) with a master’s degree will examine how your family relationships affect you. These experts work in hospitals, schools, businesses, and more to help people improve their relationships and cope with emotional or behavioral issues.

In addition, MFTs may work with children, couples, or families to achieve their goals. Many MFTs specialize in a particular practice area, such as child-parent relationship therapy or family crisis intervention.

So, mental health counselors with an MFT degree can earn an average of $48,000 per year ($24.51 hourly). Making potential increases as you gain experience.

Some counselors choose to focus on an area of practice, such as marriage and family therapy. This specialty is perfect for those who want to work with couples and families or children.

These therapists help improve relationship skills, increase emotional intelligence and teach healthy coping mechanisms. Thus, the MFT could be the best choice for girls looking for easy majors for mental health counseling.

Community Counseling

Community counselors often work on a one-on-one basis with clients who are going through a tough time. An individual, couple, family, or entire community can be affected.

They even go into schools to talk about bullying and student stress issues. Otherwise, their clients come from all walks of life, so these professionals have no limit.

Although community counselors typically must have at least an undergraduate degree to practice. Usually, they get hands-on experience working with people while still in school.

Neuropsychology (severe disabilities)

A neuropsychologist’s primary responsibility is to diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that result from brain damage.

Moreover, these professionals also work with developmental disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, brain injuries, stroke, or traumatic injury.

So, Neuropsychologists often prescribe medication and other forms of therapy. They help their patients overcome neurological issues, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

To become a neuropsychologist, you’ll need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. However, it will also be beneficial to focus your education on neuroscience and related subjects such as biology and genetics.

Some experts recommend earning a master’s degree in one of these areas before pursuing your doctorate. There is no single track to becoming a neuropsychologist, but many students choose courses that help them prepare for independent research projects during their graduate studies.

Mental health counseling offers what degree levels?

An undergraduate degree in human development can provide coursework and experience in the field. Since most Master’s programs in mental health counseling require two years of graduate school, you might earn your B.A. at a community college.

You will need to do it before transferring to a four-year university to pursue your Master’s. If you obtain certification after completing your studies, it is essential to fulfilling any continuing education requirements that will enhance your license.

Mental Health Counselors typically need a state license and national certification; however, requirements vary by jurisdiction. Therefore, if you have questions about your licensure, make sure you check with your own.

It is also essential to keep in mind that there are a few different mental health counselors. For example, you can be a school counselor or vocational counselor.

Therefore, it’s essential to research what type of work will suit your personality and personal interests before pursuing any educational training.

Most importantly, the counselors working with children generally need additional licensure and certification beyond basic certification.

mental health majors

Also Read: Best Undergrad Majors for Medical School


What certification will I need to practice as a mental health counselor?

Mental health counselors should have a graduate degree, such as a Master of Social Work (MSW) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology.

Most states also require three years of experience working with clients or completing an internship through an accredited program. Besides certification, state licensure is required to practice as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

The requirements vary by state and include passing an exam administered by your state’s psychology board. In addition, some employers may require other certifications, such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

There may be additional requirements specific to certain work environments that you should ask about before accepting any position.

Ten best online programs

An online degree may be another option for students who want to work in the mental health field. These programs train students to be therapists and counselors. Furthermore, various institutions across the United States offer online healthcare specializations. For instance:

  1. Mount Mary University,
  2. The University of North Texas,
  3. East Carolina University,
  4. Nova Southeastern University,
  5. Liberty University,
  6. Kennesaw State University,
  7. Grand Canyon University.
  8. Southwestern College,
  9. Arkansas Tech University,
  10. Thomas Edison State College.

Three steps to becoming a mental health therapist

Many people are attracted to the idea of being a mental health therapist and helping others overcome psychological issues and achieve emotional stability. Thus, aspirants should follow three simple steps to start their education or training.

Step 01: Study psychology

In reality, being a mental health therapist is more of an art than a science. Consequently, you will need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Most of your coursework will be dedicated to learning how people think and behave, both healthy and unhealthy.

Depending on your area of study—psychiatry or counseling—you might also explore personality disorders. Volunteer at local clinics and hospitals, or take on internships, where you can assist licensed therapists in day-to-day operations.

Step 02: Choose your career path

Mental health therapists work with clients to address various psychological issues. As a result, there are many career paths like counselor, psychologist, and clinical social worker. Deciding on your desired field is essential because it requires specific training and educational requirements.

For example, all counselors must earn at least a master’s or post-graduate degree. Most importantly, these occupations require passing specific exams or getting accredited by an agency like the American Psychological Association (APA).

Step 03: Get licensed

To become licensed as a mental health therapist, you will need an undergraduate degree from an accredited school and two years of supervised clinical experience.

After completing that, you can take and pass both states licensing exams and complete any additional testing required by your state’s licensing board.

Some states allow alternative pathways for licensure based on professional experience, life experiences, and current licensure in another field or college coursework.

What are the top 09 Undergraduate Degrees for mental health counselors?

One of the most rewarding fields of study is mental health counseling, and it’s an excellent choice if you care about people and want to make a positive difference in their lives. But what undergraduate degrees do you need to get this job? Here are the top 09:

01: Neuroscience

One of today’s top undergraduate degrees in the healthcare sector is neuroscience. This graduation focuses on behavioral sciences and includes concepts like motivation, values, learning styles, language development, and identity. So, you will need to enroll in a graduate school for a master’s, and then you can apply for a license.

02: Psychology

This subject (Psychology) is a natural choice for students looking to become mental health counselors. Consider earning a clinical or counseling psychology degree if you want to take an applied approach.

Additionally, these degrees provide students with substantial coursework in research methods, clinical assessment, intervention techniques, psychopathology, career counseling theories, and procedures.

Most psychology programs require at least two years of general education courses before moving into a specific study area (i.e., clinical or counseling). Many colleges and universities will also ask that you obtain your master’s degree before becoming a licensed counselor.

03: Sociology

This degree program will gain a sound understanding of human behavior and the psychological and social factors. Moreover, you will also complete a fieldwork experience, which gives your hands-on experience in an area related to your degree.

For those who want a career helping individuals with psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression recover, consider taking classes in psychology at colleges.

04: Gerontology

Elderly care, or Gerontology, is a booming area of the healthcare job market. The field was projected growth rate of 16% from 2012 to 2022; that’s fast enough to provide you with solid job security.

This degree curriculum educates the students on diagnosing common age-related diseases and conditions like dementia and osteoporosis.

05: Art Therapy

You will access a broad range of career options and professional associations with an art therapy degree. You may work in hospitals and outpatient mental health facilities.

Similarly, you will help patients learn how to express themselves artistically through painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more. Most programs require general education such as psychology, sociology, and child development.

06: Biology

Those who choose to pursue their undergraduate degree in biology and minor in psychology will understand brain chemistry. You will learn about cognitive behavior and other skills that a mental health counselor requires.

Biology also introduces students to research methods and scientific inquiry, which can be used when analyzing data as part of a clinical assessment.

07: Human Development & Family Studies

These programs can help students understand how people grow and develop cognitively and emotionally. And how they function within families, communities, workgroups, and social groups.

Many students who complete a human development degree pursue careers in public health administration or mental health counseling. Students often combine their degree with training in social work or psychology to gain a wide range of skills to put toward helping others.

08: Social Work

The vast majority of mental health counselors (MHCs) have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW). So, popular BSW degrees include social work, gerontology, child welfare, marriage, and family therapy.

When looking at top-tier programs offering BSW degrees, consider CSWE accredited undergraduate social work programs. Otherwise, if you are more interested in working with adolescents, consider an MSW degree.

There are several ways you can take a social work undergraduate studies and turn it into a Master’s Degree. Some schools even offer 5-year programs that allow students to earn both degrees within one time-frame.

09: Community Health Education

An undergraduate degree in community health education or public health can be valuable to aspiring mental health counselors. Students learn to help others improve their general well-being and physical, mental, and emotional issues in these programs.

Many graduates become nurses or doctors after finishing this program. This path is a viable option for those who plan on becoming licensed professional counselors (LPCs) or clinical social workers (CSWs).

Conclusion

Mental health counseling (sometimes called psychotherapy) provides counseling and therapy to treat people with mental disorders and mental illnesses. Not all students focus on human services when they pursue their degrees.

Therefore, it is vital to do research before choosing majors for mental health counseling. Also, find out what job opportunities will open up to you after graduation. Above all, the key is knowing your options to use them later in life.


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