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Mental Health Counselor  What They Do

Just the Facts


Counsels with emphasis on prevention. Works 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.

This career is part of the Human Services cluster Counseling and Mental Health Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Maintains confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment.
  • Encourages clients to express their feelings and discuss what is happening in their lives, helping them to develop insight into themselves or their relationships.
  • Collects information about clients through interviews, observation, or tests.
  • Assesses patients for risk of suicide attempts.
  • Prepares and maintains all required treatment records and reports.
  • Fills out and maintains client-related paperwork, including federal- and state-mandated forms, client diagnostic records, and progress notes.
  • Guides clients in the development of skills or strategies for dealing with their problems.
  • Counsels clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.
  • Performs crisis interventions with clients.
  • Develops and implements treatment plans based on clinical experience and knowledge.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Bereavement Counselor -- Provides support to terminally ill patients and their families.
  • Chemical Dependency Therapist -- Works directly with chemically addicted patients by providing drug and alcohol assessments, individual and group drug and alcohol counseling, family drug and alcohol education, film/discussion groups, seminars, and assists with aftercare planning.
  • Child Care Counselor -- Promotes a safe, and positive environment for children and youth, effectively caring for, supervising, counseling, and managing crises and emergencies.
  • Clinical Social Worker -- Evaluates client needs, performs mental health counseling and designs treatment plans, along with other duties that involve interaction with a client's family members or health care professionals such as physical therapists, registered nurses or physician
  • Crisis Intervention Therapist -- Provides counseling to individuals going through severe trauma.
  • Mental Health/Mental Retardation Supports Coordinator (MH/MR Supports Coordinator) -- Identifies and evaluates adults and children with mental illness, behavioral or emotional disorders; refers clients to outside providers for individual therapy, medication management, partial hospitalization and psychiatric rehabilitation.