What Are Some of the Jobs I Could Get if I Got my M.S. in Mental Health Counseling?

Mental health counselors assist patients with a variety of needs. These counselors work in group settings, with private patients and at hospitals and medical offices. With an undergraduate degree in the field, you have limited career options available, but if you take the time to attend graduate school, you’ll see your options increase. A M.S. Degree in mental health counseling gives you the chance to work in a wide range of settings and with patients of different backgrounds.

Marriage Therapists

One of the more common jobs associated with the field of mental health counseling is marriage therapy. Marriage therapists work directly with patients on the difficulties they face. These sessions usually take place in a private setting, and the therapist will often meet with one person at a time before sitting down with both partners. The therapist looks at the issues and problems facing the couple, listens to both partners and offers suggestions on how the couple can handle and overcome those issues. Depending on the severity of those problems, the therapist might suggest that the couple take some time apart or even divorce, but most will try alternative solutions first.

Family Counseling

Family counseling is similar to marriage therapy, and you cannot work in the family counseling field unless you have an advanced degree in the field. Family counselors work with families who face specific issues that involve more than just the parents. A counselor might work with children after their parents announce their pending divorce, or the counselor might sit down with a family after one child exhibits some destructive behaviors. Children who shoplift, steal cars or face other criminal actions will often work with a family counselor. This helps the counselor get to the root of the problem and help the family recover from the problem together.

Substance Abuse Centers

Depending on the specialty you choose in graduate school, you might find work in a substance abuse facility after graduation. Specifically designed to assist those dealing with problems relating to drug and alcohol abuse, the counselors working in these facilities are just as important as the doctors on staff. These counselors often meet one on one with patients and conduct group meetings that introduce the addict to others dealing with the same problems. Completing an internship in a substance abuse treatment center or doing volunteer work in one of those settings can increase your chances of finding a job in the field.

Clinical Settings

With an advanced degree in mental health counseling, you also have the option of working in clinical settings, including hospitals and institutions. According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 22,000 of those working in the mental health counseling field work in outpatient care centers. When a patient exhibits certain behaviors or the hospital views that person as a risk, doctors call on counselors for help. You might work with patients dealing with undiagnosed metal conditions or those who stopped taking their prescribed medication. Many of those patients require long-term care from an outpatient facility.

Working as a counselor is nearly impossible without an advanced degree. While you might find work in local facilities, you’ll typically make more and have more opportunities if you finish a graduate program. With an advanced degree in mental health counseling, you can work in clinical settings, substance abuse centers or with families and couples.