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What is Mental Health Counseling?


Mental health counseling can be an important and rewarding field of study as it focuses on helping people cope with mental illnesses and emotional issues. However, it is only with the right college education that individuals can be qualified to provide services as a mental health counselor.

A variety of colleges offer mental health counseling degrees, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Depending on the college or university, there may be bachelor’s degrees in psychology, social work, or counseling; master’s degrees in clinical psychology or counseling; and even doctorates in psychology or related fields. Each program offers different courses and requirements for graduation.

The courses offered within these degree programs typically cover topics such as psychopathology, ethical principles for counselors, therapeutic strategies for individuals and groups, human development across the lifespan, research methods, and more.

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Online Mental Health Counseling Education in Hawaii


A mental health counselor provides individuals with psychological counseling and support when they are having difficulties coping with it comes to their emotions or behaviors. They also help by teaching new skills to assist with behavioral and emotional regulation. Patients may see them frequently over the course of several weeks or months depending on the severity and complexity of their issues, or they may continue having sessions for years.

In order to practice professionally, mental health counselors need a master's degree in psychology. Additionally, many state boards may require additional training in topics such as child psychology or substance abuse before granting a license. The educational requirements for this field vary greatly from state to state, so it’s important to research your local requirements before pursuing this career path.

Mental health counselors typically offer a variety of different services, depending on the educational background of the practitioner as well as the needs of their clients. Commonly offered services include crisis intervention, developmental assessments/strategies, stress management techniques, psychometric testing, psychoeducation (teaching healthy life skills), marital/family therapy (when applicable), and more. Additionally, they may specialize in treating specific conditions such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Online Associate Degree in Mental Health Counseling (AS)

For those looking to pursue a career in mental health counseling, there are many college and degree programs available. An associate degree in mental health counseling provides an introduction to the field, giving students a solid foundation many all aspects of the profession, from assessing patient needs to developing treatment plans. With this two-year degree program, graduates will gain the necessary skills and knowledge needed for entry-level or support positions in hospitals, mental health clinics, and other social services organizations. However, it’s important to note that you cannot act as a counselor with just an associate degree. This degree can help you earn credits more economically or decide if the field is right for you, but it will not fully prepare you to work as a counselor.

In an associate degree program for mental health counseling, students learn about many areas related to psychology such as group dynamics, crisis intervention techniques, and ethics for counselors. In addition to courses on counseling theories and techniques like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), students also take classes on subjects like human development across the lifespan and psycho-social issues. The coursework lays an excellent foundation, but you are not likely to gain any hands-on experience in one of these programs.

Online Bachelors Degree in Mental Health Counseling (BS)

A bachelor's degree in mental health counseling can help students learn the skills necessary to become professional counselors. With a degree in counseling psychology, graduates will be prepared to work with individuals, families, and groups who are struggling with mental health issues. Through specialized courses, students will gain an understanding of how to evaluate and diagnose mental health issues, as well as how to develop treatment plans that address the needs of their clients.

The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in counseling psychology usually consists of courses related to psychology, sociology, human development, diversity studies, communication theory, and practice. Coursework may also include research methods and statistics so that graduates can effectively assess client progress. Students will also receive instruction on crisis management techniques and best practices for maintaining ethical standards when providing counseling services.

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Online Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling (MS or MC)

A master's counseling psychology degree programs offer full access to the rewarding and fulfilling career path of a counselor for those who are passionate about helping people. Having obtained the right and required education, skills, and experience, graduates of this program will be well-equipped to pursue professional roles as counselors in a variety of settings. Mental health counseling colleges offer specialized master's programs that prepare students for success in the field and to become a licensed mental health counselor with possible roles in school counseling, family counseling, developmental psychology, and more.

An accredited college or university that offers a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling will typically include courses on topics such as psychology, cognitive behavior therapy, group therapy, family systems theory, human development, and behavior pathology. The program also provides practical training designed to give aspiring mental health counselors hands-on experience working with clients while adhering to ethical codes of conduct. This can include internships and other supervised experiences working with patients in hospitals or outpatient clinics.

Online PhD Degree in Mental Health Counseling (PhD)

A PhD in mental health counseling can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge to advance their careers as successful mental health counselors. A doctoral degree of this type prepares students for clinical practice, research, and teaching positions in the field. These programs often involve intensive coursework that provides a broad understanding of counseling theories and techniques, along with advanced clinical training in specialized areas such as trauma counseling or child psychology.

With a PhD in counseling psychology or clinical psychology, professionals can develop the expertise to effectively treat clients' psychological issues while also helping them learn how to cope with life's challenges. Graduates are prepared to work as psychotherapists, school counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, and more - helping people overcome mental health issues through individualized treatment plans tailored specifically to their needs.

Online Mental Health Counseling Certifications

Mental health counseling is an important and growing field of study, with a wide variety of colleges offering degree programs for aspiring counselors. A mental health counselor can provide support to individuals, couples, and families who are dealing with a range of emotional issues. To practice as a professional in the field, it’s essential to be certified through one of several organizations that offer mental health counseling certifications.

Receiving certification requires an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in clinical mental health counseling or related specialty coursework. The National Board for Certified Counselors offers the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential which recognizes competency in professional counseling through both the graduate-level education program and postgraduate clinical experience.

Become a Mental Health Counselor in Hawaii


A career in mental health counseling offers incredible opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of others. As a mental health counselor, you can provide support and resources to patients who are struggling with mental health challenges. In order to become a mental health counselor, you must follow certain steps.

  • Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate and Graduate Degree

    It is necessary to earn an undergraduate degree before becoming a mental health counselor. Psychology and social work bachelor's degrees provide excellent preparation for careers in mental health counseling. You can also consider allied fields like sociology, anthropology, criminal justice, and many others that apply concepts relevant to psychological issues. To practice counseling in your state, you may need to earn a specific type of degree; you should check your state's requirements before choosing a college major. However, the undergraduate degree will not be enough to allow you to work as a counselor. You’ll also need to gain the pertinent master’s degree in counseling. This will allow you to gain licensure in the field.

  • Step 2: Gain Field Experience

    To become a certified counselor, you must have clinical experience. Through internships, volunteer programs, or part-time positions at medical clinics or hospitals, you can gain valuable hands-on experience during school and further your understanding of the profession. By gaining on the job experience, you will learn how to communicate effectively with clients and family members, as well as become familiar with treatment protocols and activities such as group therapy.

  • Step 3: Become Certified

    Certification is the next step towards becoming a qualified mental health counselor. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers both certification and residency programs that will enable you to develop expertise in your field and demonstrate your commitment to the profession. After passing the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), applicants must also meet the state licensure requirements in the jurisdiction where they seek employment.

  • Step 4: Stay Up To Date with Trends and Developments

    Clinical approaches change over time, so it's critical for counselors to stay on top of new developments in their practice area, as well as changing trends in patient care protocols across healthcare systems. Professionals can stay current within their chosen fields by attending communication workshops or taking continuing education classes, helping them provide better service throughout their careers, which keeps them on top of their peers in terms of employability and mentoring opportunities.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Mental Health Counseling?


A bachelor's degree in mental health counseling can open the door to a wide variety of career paths that are all focused on helping people. Opportunities exist in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practice and more. With ever-changing technology and modern approaches to mental health treatment, a bachelor's degree in mental health counseling provides individuals with an array of knowledge, though they cannot act as counselors without more education and licensure.

Potential Careers for Mental Health Counseling Graduates


  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologist:

    Industrial/organizational psychologists are responsible for studying and applying psychological principles in the workplace. They analyze data to identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to increase productivity, enhance job satisfaction, and optimize business performance.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Doctoral degree in industrial/organizational psychology or related field
    • Knowledge of psychological principles in the workplace
    • Proficiency with statistical analysis software and techniques
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists in the US in 2021 was $113,320
    • The mean annual wage for psychologists (all other) in Hawaii is $92,060
  • College/School Counselor:

    A college counselor is responsible for providing guidance, counseling and support to students regarding post-secondary education, including college selection, admissions, financial aid, and career planning.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree in Education or related field
    • Previous experience in counseling or guidance
    • Familiarity with college admissions process
    • Excellent organizational, communication, interpersonal and problem-solving skills
    • Knowledge of current trends in higher education

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510
    • The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in Hawaii is $68,560
  • Mental Health Counselor:

    A mental health counselor provides counseling and support to individuals with mental health needs. They assist clients in developing coping strategies and making positive life changes.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in counseling, psychology, social work or related field
    • Licensed as a mental health counselor or eligible for licensure
    • Knowledge of current treatments for mental health conditions
    • Ability to maintain professional boundaries with clients
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Hawaii is $61,410
  • Addiction Counselor:

    A addiction counselor works with individuals with disabilities and addictions to help them achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling or a related field is preferred
    • Knowledge of counseling techniques, applicable laws, and community resources
    • Ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in the US in 2021 was $38,560
    • The mean annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in Hawaii is $36,450
  • Behavioral Disorder Counselor:

    A behavioral disorder counselor provides individual and group counseling to individuals with behavioral disorders. They work to identify and address underlying issues that may be causing the behaviors, develop action plans to help manage behaviors, and provide support for individuals and their families.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work or related field required
    • Master’s degree preferred
    • Experience working with children/adolescents preferred
    • Ability to work independently

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Hawaii is $61,410
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker:

    A mental health and substance abuse social worker provides counseling, support, and resources to individuals struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse. They work closely with individuals to develop treatment plans, provide emotional support, and coordinate with other professionals to ensure optimal care.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelors in social work or a related field
    • Licensure or certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or similar credential
    • Knowledge of mental health and substance abuse issues

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for mental health and substance abuse social workers in the US in 2021 was $57,800
    • The mean annual wage for mental health and substance abuse social workers in Hawaii is $64,310
  • Psychologist:

    A counseling psychologist is responsible for providing mental health services to individuals, families, and groups in order to promote psychological well-being.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Doctoral degree in psychology
    • Professional license in psychology
    • Proficiency in various psychotherapy techniques
    • Excellent interpersonal skills
    • Ability to maintain professional boundaries

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in the US in 2021 was $99,640
    • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in Hawaii is $113,040
  • Group Counselor or Therapist:

    A group counselor or therapist is responsible for providing therapeutic supports to individuals or groups of people in a professional setting.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master’s degree in counseling, social work, psychology, or related field
    • Previous experience providing group counseling/therapy services
    • Licensed as a mental health therapist in the state where services are provided
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
    • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Hawaii is $61,410

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