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Inside Mental Health Counselor Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

 

Biggest Surprises


"Difficulty With Helping Others With Mental Illness...
It surprised how difficult it is to work with people with mental illness and how patient a person needs to be to make a breakthrough. Sometimes it seems impossible to help them understand how to take care of themselves or follow norms and takes several times before they understand, if at all. I was also surprised with the amount of paperwork that goes with the career." (Mental Health Practitioner; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Psychology at Northern Illinois University in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Many Areas Of Skill And Work Required...
What has surprised me the most is the genuine honesty people entrust in their mental health counselors. Furthermore, I was surprised to find that much of my time is spent doing paperwork rather than sitting with patients and talking with them." (Mental Disability Counselor; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Psychology at UCLA in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"Job Security...
I was surprised at how dependent most counseling agencies are on grants. Some positions are only open for a year or two, then they totally disappear when the grant runs out." (Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Counselor; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, female
School: Studied Counseling & Human Development at Troy University in Alabama; completed Master degree in 2005


"Client Relationships Spills Over Into My Life...
I was surprised by how much the relationships with my clients triggered my own issues, particularly my challenges with setting boundaries and the tendency to get over involved emotionally. It could be an emotionally exhausting job, and without good self-care skills, one's own emotional and physical health can be compromised." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Social Work at Antioch Collee in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 1981


"I Like Helping People...
I was surprised that the job would be so fulfilling. I really enjoy working in my career." (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in West Virginia, female
School: Studied Psychology at Marshall University in West Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Truly Love Your Work...
I didn't know that when I started this profession, it would teach me a so much about myself. I never thought I could have fun at work while helping people." (MHMR Representative; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Anthropology at University Of North Texas in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Incredibly Rewarding...
I have been most surprised at how rewarding this field has been. It is not a very lucrative field, but the payout in just witnessing human growth has been especially meaningful." (Mental Health Counselor (LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor); 2013)

Career: 19 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Art Therapy at Eastern Virginia Medical School (Graduate Art Therapy Program) in Virginia; completed Master degree in 1994


"More Than A 9-5 Job...
I was surprised at how extensive my career is in terms of how intensive and demanding it can be. I not only work during the week, but my weekends are usually used to catch up on work that didn't get done during the week." (Behavior Analyst; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Psychology at Western Michigan University in Michigan; completed Doctorate degree


"Social Workers Wear Many Hats...
I think others would be surprised to find that social workers can do a lot more than the stereotype suggests. There is a lot of flexibility in the field, and you can move among different areas a lot easier than if your degree was specifically in something like counseling." (Mental Health Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, female
School: Studied Social Work at Monmouth University in New Jersey; completed Master degree in 2011


"Red Tape Can Slow Down The Process"...
I'm surprised with how difficult it can be to find resources for folks in need sometimes. I'm surprised by how much red tape and time it takes to get the job done." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Psychology at Shepherd University in West Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 1993


"Be Willing To Change Treatment Modalities When Necessary...
I was surprised at how difficult it was to get family involvement working with children placed in residential treatment." (Family Counselor; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, female
School: Studied Marriage And Family Counseling at CU Denver in Colorado; completed Master degree in 1995


"Private Practice Possible...
Many people are surprised to learn that it is possible to go into private practice rather soon after graduating. It is not always necessary to work in low paying positions for years prior to working with clients directly." (Counselor; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, female
School: Studied Counselor at Northwestern University in Illinois; completed Master degree in 2009


"Doing Less Work As Therapist...
I quickly learned that not only are managers incompetent, that they are mostly ignorant concerning clinical issues. Very disappointed that most of the work does NOT involve personal growth work in the way I had imagined, but mostly trying to "smoke out" drug-seekers and disability seekers. There is less prestige and value in Therapy than I believe is appropriate." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Psychology at State University Of West Georgia in Georgia; completed Master degree in 1996


"Trust Doesn't Come Easily...
I was surprised at how distrustful some people are of mental health professionals. I have a lot of people that think that I am a quack or constantly analyzing people." (Psychologist; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, female
School: Studied Psychology at University Of Oregon in Oregon; completed Master degree in 2011


"After Hours On The Job...
I was surprised at how challenging my job can be. I was surprised at how many hours after I'm not working that I still spend on the job." (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Health Care Administration And Psychology at University Of Phoenix in Idaho; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"I was surprised that there is more paper work to be Handled and that being well organized with your papers can help in the long run." (Family Counselor; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Family Counseling at CSU Fullerton in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Misinformed Employers Make It Hard To Find Work...
I've found it surprising how misinformed a lot of others in the mental health field are regarding which licenses exist and what the scope of each is. For instance, a lot of program directors and fellow clinicians think that only social workers are independently licensed to diagnose and see clients for therapy." (Expressive Therapist And LMHC; 2013)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Clinical Mental Health And Expressive Therapies at Lesley University in Massachusetts; completed Master degree in 2001


"Vast Array Of Mental Health Diagnoses...
I was surprised regarding the vast array of mental health diagnoses I would work with. It takes a lot of learning beyond graduate school to understand treatment protocols." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, female
School: Studied Marriage And Family Therapy at North Dakota State University in North Dakota; completed Master degree in 2005


"People Really Trust Me...
I was surprised that people were so willing to open up to me about very personal issues. I always thought I would meet with more resistance." (Family Counselor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Mississippi, female
School: Studied Social Work at SRJC in California; completed Certificate degree in 2009


"Constant Retraining Necessary...
I was surprised at how much continuous training is required even if you've been on the job for 20 years. It's good as a refresher and to learn new treatment techniques." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Substance Abuse at UMass Boston in Massachusetts; completed Certificate degree in 2011


"Navigating Red Tape...
I was surprised about the bureaucratic knowledge I would have to absorb in the course of my day" (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Psychology at City University Of New York in New York; completed Master degree in 2002


"Mentally Challenged Adults Need Counseling, Too...
Working with developmentally disabled adults that needed social skills counseling and support" (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Psychology- Marriage And Family Therapy at Brandman University in California; completed Master degree in 2012


"Flexibility Of Job Options...
I was surprised at how many options are available for counselors. You can work for the government: state, local, county, or federal. You can work in a variety of settings from in a person's home to in an office. This career provides a lot of flexibility." (Counselor; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Counseling at Kent State University in Ohio; completed Master degree in 2002


"What To Expect...
That the job can take a toll on you mentally. Burn out is common as you do take home some of your problems from work. You also become very involved with the clients that you work with." (Psycho Social Skills Rehabilitator; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Nevada, female
School: Studied Psychology at University Of Phoenix in Arizona; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Caring For Your Consumers...
It is surprising how much you really end up involved and caring about your consumers. It is surprising how much "off the clock" work you are willing to do to help your consumers." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Psychology at Mercy College in New York; completed Master degree in 2012


"It All Begins At Home...
I'm surprised to see that there are so many families with as severe issues as I'm exposed to as a Mental Health Counselor working in a classroom. It's a shame to see the impact that neglect and abuse have had on a child's ability to focus in the classroom and learn." (Behavioral Specialist; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"The Field Of Mental Health Can Be Extremely Rewarding...
Learning about the experiences that clients have gone through have been greatly surprising. In addition, observing and learning how a client molds and meshes with their family." (Adoption Counselor; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Iowa, female
School: Studied Psychology, Sociology at Wartburg College in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Personal Life Stages And Experiences Impact Counseling Style And Philosophy Over Time."...
I was surprised how much the various life stages that I went through personally impacted my counseling philosophy over the years. It also played a large role in defining what kinds of cases I eventually decided to focus on." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Marriage And Family Therapy at Abilene Christian University in Texas; completed Master degree in 1990


"Workplace Politics Affect Clinical Care...
I have been most surprised over time with the amount of politics I deal with in my job on a daily basis. I frequently find that I am hindered from providing the best clinical care by policies implemented by the higher-ups who have no direct contact with the clients we serve." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in South Carolina, female
School: Studied Social Work at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Master degree in 2006


"Taxing Work Expectations On Counselors...
I was surprised as to how stressful the job could be in terms of in company politics and how much so-called non-profit companies are all about the profit despite how taxing it is on its staff. While doing therapy with clients can be stressful, client issues are usually not my main stressor at work, rather, trying to fulfill extremely high standards of productivity." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Mental Health Counseling at University Of Tennessee in Tennessee; completed Master degree in 2012


"Low Pay Sick Staff...
I was surprised how low the pay is and how unprofessional and mentally unstable the staff I work with is(other clinicians)." (Therapist; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Psychology at Argosy University in Georgia; completed Master degree in 2003


"Lack Of Teaching Background Creates Entry Barrier...
I was surprised by how difficult it is to become a school counselor if you were never a teacher first. However, any teacher, regardless of counseling training, can easily become certified as a school counselor in the state of Alabama. Not only did I have a Psych. degree, and a Master's degree, I still had to receive 2 years of supervision at my own cost in order to work as a school counselor. If I had been a classroom teacher, the supervision would not have been required." (School Counselor; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, female
School: Studied Community Agency Counseling at University Of Montevallo in Alabama; completed Master degree in 2006


"Higher Pay Than Expected...
What surprised me most is how well paid some of the positions in this field are. Students are often taught that there is no money in mental health, but I make a very good living." (Mental Health Professional; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Psychology at Frostburg State University in Maryland; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Many People Who Need Help Do Not Actually Want It...
I was a bit disillusioned when I got into the field after college. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to help people who needed assistance with sorting through their psychological problems, but was taken aback by how few people actually want to be helped, or to help themselves. What might surprise people about this field of work is that clients are often people who don't stand out in a crowd. I think a lot of people view people seeking psychological help as crazy and eccentric, but in actuality clients are just people--the same as you and me." (Case Worker/Counselor; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Psychology at San Diego State University in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"Difficult To Find A Job...
I was surprised at how difficult it is to get an internship and job in this field. Most people have to apply to many jobs across the country and are lucky to even get an interview. The number of people with degrees in this area who cannot get jobs is very high." (Child Life Specialist; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Science at University Of Michigan in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"Women Rule...
I am surprised that the hospital is mostly run by women. The ratio is 8 women for every 1 guy. very cool." (Anesthesia Tech; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Surgical Tech at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire; completed Associate degree in 2007


"Low Levels Of Client Commitment...
I was surprised to find how challenging it is for clients to follow thru with their commitment to counseling. I thought that since they wanted to come to counseling they would do whatever it took on their part to make the changes they need. I was surprised to find that in private practice it is challenging to get clients to attend sessions and be willing to pay. The private practice where I work does not take insurance so this has been challenging." (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Psychology at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida; completed Master degree in 2011


"Gaining Practical Knowledge...
I was surprised at the degree to which the functional aspects of being a mental health therapist are not really covered in school. There is a great deal of practical information to the vocation that is not really given appropriate attention in graduate training." (Mental Health Therapist; 2012)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Applied Behavior Analysis at Nova Southeastern University in Florida; completed Master degree in 2010


"I was surprised that my college education in psychology taught me absolutely nothing about working with the mentally ill." (Case Manager; 2012)

Career: 17 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, male
School: Studied Psychology at Ball State University in Indiana; completed Bachelor degree in 1993


"I was surprised that patient care is often compromised by ability to pay. Even though I work at a non profit for a program that provides free services, our services are short term. We are often unable to connect people with long term mental health treatment due to their inability to pay and lack of insurance coverage." (Counselor; 2012)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, female
School: Studied Counseling at Lakeland College in Wisconsin; completed Master degree in 2009


"Work daily with many types of people; sometimes weird hours; can be mentally taxing." (Health Worker; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, female
School: Studied Psychology at St Cloud State University in Minnesota; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career


Rehab Case Manager: "One of the best parts of the career is actually developing and implementing a plan that actually works to help a client. Another great thing about it is the rapport you build with the clients and the great relationships made between you and your clients. The curriculum used to train clients is well written and easy to teach in a way the clients can understand. Some of the worst parts include the strict demand for all documentation to be turned in daily, because you've been out in the field all day seeing clients and then have to go back to the office and write notes the rest of the work day, which is never long enough. Also, it is frustrating when you drive to clients' houses and they have moved, been evicted, disappeared, etc., and you have to try to locate them." (2011)


Professional Counselor: "The best part of my job is when clients are getting well and they have reached their clinical goals. For example, if I am working with a depressed client, I am very pleased when their depression is not present. The worst part of my job is dealing with high risk suicidal clients as this can be very nerve wracking and requires that I make sure my clients are safe. I see a range of clients to ensure I do not only see high risk clients." (2011)


Behavioral Heath Professional: "The most rewarding part of my job is the satisfaction of knowing that I am making a positive difference in someone's life. I get to work with people from all walks of life and make a pretty decent wage from doing so. The worst parts about my job is getting close to families after working with them for a long time, and then having to move on. Another part of my job which I find frustrating is when I work for months and months with a family who is unwilling to change behaviors in order to improve their lives." (2011)


Residential Counselor: "The worst part of the job is when a patient gets verbally and physically abusive. Or when the patients get stubborn and refuse to do what's required of them: taking a shower, for example, or completing a workout. The best part is when the men are happy, laughing, joking with one another and comfortable and content with their surroundings. Also when you come back for your next shift and they greet you with a smile and a "Hello, how was your day?"" (2010)


Rehabilitation And Mental Health Counselor/ Adjunct Professor: "The worst part of the job is seeing individuals and families struggling with medical conditions and not getting active treatment to better their social, emotional, economic, and physical well being. The best part of the job is hearing expressions of gratitude from individuals and families turning a difficult situation into a healthy and dynamic lifestyle." (2010)


"The best parts of the job are being able to discharge people for achieving their goals and learning how to manage symptoms. I also love working with so many different people. Each client brings something new to the table when we meet, so there is little repetition in the work. The worst part of the job is the cuts in services that happen quite frequently. This can mean getting less time to spend with a client or seeing services denied to people who really need them. I also don't like all of the paperwork that is involved in getting services authorized." (2010)


Clinical First Responder: "My job is the best because no two days are ever the same and I have the luxury of working with so many different people every day. I get to ride in the police cruiser and help people in need. The worst part of my job is that everyone I meet is in crisis and there is rarely ever any good news to tell people. I have had to make some difficult decisions in order to keep people safe in the long run." (2009)

Career Background


Mental Health Counselor

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Career Tips


"Career Dissatisfaction-Stringent Requirements...
If you want to be a therapist, be prepared for burn out, long hours, low pay, changing requirements and unprofessional cohorts." (Therapist; 2014)


"Importance Of Internships And Volunteer Experiences...
I would make sure to look for internships and volunteer experiences while in graduate school or even as an undergraduate. These experiences will shape your career path and area of specialization." (Counselor; 2014)


"Back-Up Career...
It is important to be willing to move for a job in another location, and to have a back-up career in mind." (Child Life Specialist; 2014)


"The Dedication Of A Mental Health Practitioner...
If you want to be a successful mental health practitioner be patient and understanding with your clients. It is important to understand that it is all long process for not only yourself but the client as well and takes 110% dedication." (Mental Health Practitioner; 2014)


"Remain Connected To Mentors...
Working for yourself is possible if you keep connections with instructors, mentors and others in the mental health community. If you want to work on your own, be sure to remain connected to the community at large." (Counselor; 2014)


"Emotional Regulation Is Key...
If you want to be a successful counselor, you need to have a clear understanding of your own emotions and self first. Being able to recognize your emotions allows you to regulate and monitor yourself, allowing you to become the best counselor possible." (Adoption Counselor; 2014)


"Build Your Resume With Volunteering And Internships...
Volunteer and do internships while you are in school. These things will look great on your resume and give you a leg forward once you graduate." (Mental Health Professional; 2014)


"Be Prepared For The Worst, But Remember The Silver Lining...
Steel yourself. Many clients will come to you seeking help and will become upset or agitated when you offer them solutions and resources. Don't take it personally--just stick to the code of ethics, do your job, and wait for those people who really want the help. They are the ones who make it all worthwhile." (Case Worker/Counselor; 2014)


"Licensure Requirements...
Find out about licensure requirements in your state before you graduate. It is much easier to obtain licensure directly out of school than it is to wait a few years. Testing is often required, as well as professional references. Professors are excellent references because they can speak directly to your skills." (Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Counselor; 2013)


"Every Day In The Field Is A New Day...
There's theory, and then there's practice. The only constant in life is change." (Behavioral Specialist; 2013)


"Think Of Anything,...
Make sure to be open minded." (Counselor; 2013)


"Keep The Baggage At Work...
1. If you get into the substance abuse field, make sure you learn how to leave the work at work. Don't get so involved with the clients that you're bringing their emotions home with you at night." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)


"Happiness Vs. Misery...
Make sure you are happy doing what you will be doing, otherwise you will be miserable." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)


"Moving Ahead...
Make sure that you explore all options regarding credentialing. Make sure that you explore the option to look into hospital administration if you plan to move up." (Counselor; 2013)


"Research Counseling Opportunities And Credential Requirements...
Carefully research the different counseling areas, credential requirements and how these fit into your overall career goals." (Family Counselor; 2013)


"Self-Care...
Learn self-care skills and how to maintain boundaries early on. It will make your work easier and more successful."" (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"Don't Put Off Getting Your License Once School Is Finished."...
Make sure you get all the important licensure requirements fulfilled as soon as possible. Taking a job right after school that doesn't require it can cause you to put it off and you might end up having a hard time if your life journey leads you to another state before you've completed licensure. In other words, it's always easier to transfer a license than to try to get one in a different state than you trained in." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)


"Develop A Specialty...
The best advice I can give to someone starting out or changing careers is to develop a niche that you specialize in. I have been trained in a specific type of therapy that has opened up many doors for me, and will enable me to more easily get into private practice when I decide to do that." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"How To Not Suffer From Burn Out...
If you feel burnt out, make time for yourself." (Psycho Social Skills Rehabilitator; 2013)


"Learn As Much As You Can About Treatment Protocols...
Learn as much as you can about specific mental health diagnoses and treatment protocols during graduate school. Once you start an internship, ask as many questions as you can about treatment protocols. The more you learn about treatment protocols during your internships, the more satisfied you will be when you are licensed." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)


"The World Is Your Oyster...
Though it may seem like you will never get out of university, you will eventually and then you can start the rest of your life. The world is your oyster." (MHMR Representative; 2013)


"Counselor Burnout...
One statement a professor of mine during graduate school has especially rang true: "Clients are not the ones who will cause a counselor to burnout but rather the people you work with and for." The high expectations to see a certain amount of clients per month to make the budget has made that quote ring true to me." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"Self-Care In Social Work...
Make sure that you have sufficient self-care skills as the demands of the job can take a toll on you personally and professionally. Consider the various fields and ponder what kind of work you are able to handle emotionally." (Mental Health Social Worker; 2013)


"Know Your Degree...
Understand how your degree can transfer to other colleges. If you have a particular career in mind, you may need a degree that you can't get without certain pre-requisites." (Family Counselor; 2013)


"It's All About Multitasking...
Be ready to use skills that you didn't know you had or perform tasks that you didn't expect would be part of the job -- be flexible and resourceful." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"Learn To Advocate For Yourself...
Be prepared to clearly explain the scope of your license and clinical training to other professionals who don't understand your qualifications." (Expressive Therapist And LMHC; 2013)


"Is There A Licensed Counselor At Your Work Center...
Make sure your work center has a licensed counselor that can vouch for your counseling hours." (Counselor; 2013)


"People Skills Are Important, Listen To People...
Make sure you know what the job entails before getting into it and always be sure to talk to any supervisor you have to see if he gives you green light toward a change you want to pursue. Furthermore, make sure you know how to handle a range of people; increase your people skills." (Mental Disability Counselor; 2013)


"Stay Current...
Make sure that you become licensed or registered in your field and that you maintain your training through the years. It is important to stay informed of new techniques, methods, and research." (Mental Health Counselor (LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor); 2013)


"Pitfalls Of Many Counselor Jobs...
Understand that the available jobs in anything but the Private Practice arena can have variable hours, will not necessarily be in a nice office (or an office at all), and quite possibly will have clients who are not very motivated for change. These positions are much more like factory work (mindless repetitive task completion for a possibly non-reality based, overly dramatic or unfocused boss/organization). If your business model involves accepting managed care insurance, that is it's own can of worms." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"Party Later...
Study hard in school. Always devote as much time as possible to studying. You have time for parties and fun later." (Psychologist; 2013)


"Set Limits...
If you see patients as a counselor, therapist, etc. try to take time away from your clients. If clients are too demanding, set some boundaries and let them know you can't help them right at that moment." (Behavior Analyst; 2013)


"CACREP Accreditation Paramount...
Make sure that you choose a program that is CACREP accredited. There are some Masters programs, believe it or not, that are not accredited. If you intend to work in a school especially, you need to be from a CACREP accredited program. If not, you run the risk of complementing your state certification." (School Counselor; 2013)


"Work On Yourself First...
Make sure you have done your own mental health work and really understand what is motivating you to be in this profession. Also, be sure your self-care skills are strong, which will be essential for longevity in this demanding and often low paying career." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)


"Limit Your Client Workload...
Make sure that you don't overload your self with many clients, work on something different in between or else you will end up burned" (Family Counselor; 2013)


"Build Relationships With Clients...
Learn how to build rapport with people because in this career you will find that they actually look forward to you coming out to see them. If you don't have good rapport they will think you are wasting their time and have no respect for you, and will most likely dodge your appointments. It is helpful to learn organization and time management skills prior to entering this type of career because you have to schedule your own appointments and keep track of paperwork. Learn self discipline because in this career you work under little supervision, so it is up to you to get all your work done. No one else is accountable but you." (Rehab Case Manager; 2011)


"Don't Overpay For Your Master's...
I would advise students not to pay a lot of money for a master's degree in counseling. It is more important that the graduate program has required courses necessary for getting licensed. The licensing process can take two years or more after graduating from graduate college due to the number of professional hours needed. Pay is low in a nonprofit clinical setting so understand that you will not be making a lot of money. Private practice is more profitable, but it takes about 3 years after getting your license for insurance companies to allow you to bill them." (Professional Counselor; 2011)


"Keep Your Work And Home Lives Separated...
Tip 1- Make sure to be aware of any personal issues you may have that would effect how you treat clients. Tip 2- It would be very helpful to take some basic psychology courses during college. Tip 3- Make sure to leave any issues and frustrations experienced at work at the office. Many people will dwell too much on the stresses of the job and get burnt out quickly if they cant learn to separate work from home life." (Behavioral Heath Professional; 2011)


"3 Quick Pointers For Residential Counselors...
1. Stand your ground. Don't let your patients manipulate you. 2. Be patient, calm and understanding. 3. Treat the men and the house with respect, as you would your own." (Residential Counselor; 2010)


"It's About Your Clients...
1. Keep it real. Be as honest as you can. Be realistic about your abilities and skills. You need to like interaction, sharing, conversation, and being with people. This is less about you than about helping others and promoting their growth and development. 2. Read, study, and develop your knowledge and skills in a variety of areas and specialize in one you really like, while continuing to maintain the global focus. 3. Listen to feedback from family and teachers, develop and keep friends, and most importantly learn from your mentors. Develop one or a few of these to guide you." (Rehabilitation And Mental Health Counselor/ Adjunct Professor; 2010)


"You Won't Click With All Clients...
1. If you plan to be a therapist, do an internship where you can watch other therapists in session. This way you can see how other therapists work. 2. Understand that not all of your clients will take a liking to you right away and don't take it personally if they do not make progress as you would like them to. 3. Remember to meet the client where they are and don't place your judgments and values upon them. Therapists have to be open-minded and non-judgmental." (; 2010)


"Get A Master's And Stay Up-To-Date...
1. Get your master's degree because its the only way that you will be able to practice or use your skills in the counseling field. 2. Keep up on your continuing education classes even after you graduate because the field is constantly changing. 3. Subscribe to magazines or journals in order to keep updated with the newest ways of thinking and techniques/medicines being used. 4. Surround yourself with great people and enhance your coping skills so that you don't become stressed with your work!" (Clinical First Responder; 2009)