Job description

Mental health counsellors help, treat and advise clients who are dealing with mental and emotional health issues as well as relationship problems. They may specialise in counselling a particular group of people such as the elderly, students or children.

Mental health counsellors guide and support people with conditions like anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. They may also advise family members and refer clients to other helpful resources and services.


    • Assess a client’s needs and readiness for counselling
    • Help, treat and advise clients dealing with mental health issues
    • Create, plan, recommend and implement treatment goals with clients and their families
    • Help clients improve mental health by developing skills and behaviours
    • Assist clients in identifying their problems and their causes
    • Advise family members and friends on helping and supporting client
    • Refer clients to other helpful resources and services
    • Lead outreach programmes to help and encourage those with mental health issues

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail
Active listening
Social perceptiveness

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Mental health counsellors have the opportunity to work in different settings. For instance, someone who works in a juvenile detention facility may progress to work in a prison. They can also advance into supervisory or administrative positions.

By obtaining a PhD, some mental health counsellors can move into psychologist roles.

With enough knowledge, qualifications and experience, there is also the prospect of opening your own business or private practice. Mental health counsellors sometimes write and publish books or educational articles and conduct outreach programmes.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Night and weekends occasionally

Mental health counsellors typically work in mental health facilities, hospitals, clinics, prisons, rehab centres, schools or juvenile detention facilities. Some mental health counsellors work in private institutions where they meet clients for one-on-one therapy sessions.

Although this job can be rewarding, working as a mental health counsellor requires patience and mental stamina, especially when dealing with disobedient, emotional or difficult clients. It can also be stressful due to heavy workloads.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in psychology

Study time

4 years

Education requirements for mental health counsellors vary by state and employer but typically include a bachelor’s degree in psychology or related field at the very least. Those with a master’s degree in psychology, clinical social work or mental health counselling have higher employment opportunities and can usually provide more services to their clients, such as private one-on-one therapy sessions, with less supervision.

All mental health counsellors must obtain a licence once they have completed clinical work experience under the supervision of a licensed counsellor.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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