Online Masters in Mental Health Counseling Degrees
The need for highly trained mental health counselors is on the rise. A masters in mental health counseling provides you the tools and skills necessary to become a practicing mental health counselor in the U.S. The duties of a mental health counselor far exceed what the average person might think. A mental health counselor is not only responsible for tending to the emotional and mental needs of a patient, but they possess the qualifications necessary to diagnose a patient and decide the appropriate treatment options to suggest.
A mental health counselor's duties often fall on a spectrum. One end being helping those with normal cognitive processes deal with difficult events in their lives such as grieving the loss of a loved one, or coping with the devastation of losing a job, and the other being helping those with less than normal cognitive processes figure out ways to manage a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or clinical depression. A masters in clinical mental health counseling is required for counseling licensure in all states.
When considering pursuing a masters in mental health counseling online you may be wondering how a virtual learning space is conducive for learning how to properly and effectively interact with patient in need. Most accredited online masters in mental health counseling programs require that you have a certain amount of in-person clinical experience, and ensure that their curriculum resembles that of an on-campus masters in mental health counseling program. Though this is true, there are still a few things you want to consider while looking for the best online masters in mental health counseling programs. This includes student support, in-person clinical experience and placement assistance, live discussions, class size, and of course, accreditation.
The Online Masters in Mental Health Counseling Experience
When looking for an online masters in Mental Health Counseling program you want to take into account the type of virtual experience being provided. For example, online student support services, clinical experience placement assistance, class size and live discussions are essentials for ensuring that. Online student support services will provide you with access to campus faculty and staff while you are logged on.
In order to become a licensed Mental Health Counselor you must complete the required clinical experience hours. Being an online student can make placement difficult as some programs do not provide much assistance when it comes to clinical experience placement. However, there are programs that offer special support to online students in finding convenient internship placement sites. Finally, class size and live discussions make for an interactive and fun virtual learning experience. A 15:1 ratio and synchronous learning allows students and instructors to begin fosters and facilitating a productive virtual learning space.
The great thing about pursuing a master in Mental Health Counseling online is that all you need is a built-in camera, a microphone, and a strong wifi connection. With these three things you can participate in face-to-face live discussion with your fellow classmates and instructors.
CACREP Accreditation: CACREP Accredited online masters in Mental Health Counseling programs must all meet a set of general standards. These standards are determined by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs (CACREP). CACREP accredited programs all meet a number of content objectives. Some of these standards include human growth and development, group work, and the history and development of Mental Health Counseling techniques, models and theories. If an online masters in mental health counseling program is accredited by CACREP the program is likely to be focused on quality, excellence and equity.
A CACREP accredited program tends to be ethically sound and addresses the needs of society at large. Their focus is encouraging leadership, and protecting the public. Your CACREP accredited program is guaranteed to strategic and theoretical diversity while pushing for best practices and program improvement.
MPCAC Accreditation: MPCAC Accredited programs place an emphasis on students competence. These programs must meet a list of curriculum criterias in order to become MPCAC accredited. The curriculum according to the MPCAC standards are listed below:
Professional identity, and ethical and professional standards
Evidence-based theories and practice of counseling and psychotherapy
Multiculturalism and diversity
Tests, measurements, and other assessments of behavior
Career development and/or the role of work in peoples’ lives
Biological basis of behavior
Developmental basis of behavior
Social/organizational/community basis of behavior
Understanding and use of supervision during applied experiences
Online Masters in Mental Health Counseling Programs
Each online masters in mental health counseling will have its own unique program structure and application process. Some similarities exist throughout programs, however, and in most circumstances the required materials needed to apply match those outlined below:
Application: Once you have found the accredited online masters in Mental Health Counseling program of your choice you will fill out an online (or paper) application and pay the subsequent application fee.
Test Scores: Many schools require that you submit you GRE general test scores, or your TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students. Some schools however do not require you submit any test scores at all. However, be prepared to mail in your GRE General Tests scores or your TOEFL/IELTS scores to your chosen institution.
Transcripts: All accredited Mental Health Counseling masters program require that you send them a copy of your transcript from any postsecondary school you have attended. You can do this by requesting all transcripts in advance and uploading the official copy online. Requests transcripts in advance of the application deadline, and upload one official copy of each transcript from any postsecondary schools you have attended.
Professional Work History: Upload a copy of your most recent resume or curriculum vitae as part of your application.
Essays and Personal StatementsIn most cases the submission of a personal statement (written in essay form) is required. You may even be required to submit multiple essays to your school of choice to express fully the intent of your application. Below are some common topics that should be mentioned in your personal statement.
Your main academic and personal interests
Experiences in school or work that have helped to prepare you for this course of study
Why you wish to study for the degree you’ve chosen
Why you wish to study at the university
Your plans for the future after you earn your degree
Application Fees: Application fees may vary from around $25 to $75 per program
Featured Online Masters in Mental Health Counseling Programs
Pursuing a masters in Mental Health Counseling can increase your earning potential and optimize your career related opportunities. Some of these opportunities include working in both the private and public sector. A masters in Mental Health Counseling can offer you the skills and clinical experience needed to have a career in family services, outpatient care, government, hospitals, schools, and private practices. Obtaining masters in Mental Health counseling can expose you to a variety of demographics and populations that require specific and tailored care and attention. Some of these specific populations include the elderly, the incarcerated, teenagers, and families. Below are a number of related careers and salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Mental Health Supervisor - Average Annual Salary of $49,211
College Career Counselor - Average Annual Salary of $46,463
Substance Abuse Counselor - Average Annual Salary of $42,930
Rehabilitation Counselor - Average Annual Salary of $38,600
Marriage and Family Counselor - Average Annual Salary of $52,920
It is important to keep in mind that some of these related careers require additional certifications. You can get more informations about what additional certifications are required through your school’s website.