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What is a Mental Health Counselor?
The study of mental health counseling can lead to many impactful professions in New Hampshire. It’s a particularly relevant major for those interested in various emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as how to manage them.
Mental health counselors meet with and advice people on a range of issues. Using psychotherapy and various psychological treatments, they work to help patients process through complicated emotions and behavioral patterns.
These professionals are generally capable of addressing numerous emotional and behavioral conditions, but they most commonly treat:
- Mood Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Behavioral Addictions
In most cases, mental health counselors have the knowledge and skills needed to treat individuals of all ages and demographics. They may, however, choose to specialize in the treatment of certain conditions or groups more than others. Common examples of this include focusing on the treatment of children, adolescents, the elderly, disabled individuals, and military personnel.
Daily activities can vary significantly, especially when treating many different patients who have been diagnosed with various conditions. Some fairly standard duties include performing client evaluations, managing patient treatment plans, and evaluating progress. Additionally, these professionals will reach out and/or make referrals to support groups, out-patient clinics, and healthcare providers when necessary.
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Online Mental Health Counseling Education in New Hampshire
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 22% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an additional 43,600 new job openings throughout the nation each year. As of May 2022 the state employed 2,130 of these professionals with an annual mean wage of $50,860. Notably, this is lower than the state’s reported annual mean wage for all occupations, which was $62,550 that same year.
Graduates may also qualify for work in many community and social service occupations. Employment for specialists in these professions is also expected to increase by 12%, which will result in additional entry-level jobs available to counseling graduates as well. As of May 2022, New Hampshire employed 10,560 workers in this field, with an annual mean wage of $52,890.
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest in New Hampshire. It accounts for $65.2 billion in revenue each year.
There are many colleges and universities that offer mental health counseling and other related degrees in New Hampshire. It’s also possible to enroll in online programs provided in other states. Education standards vary by location, however, which is a particularly important consideration for individuals who plan to seek state licensure. Those expecting to seek employment as mental health counselors in New Hampshire should give preference to higher education institutions located in the state. These schools will offer the most geographically relevant instruction, ensuring you have the knowledge and skills that prospective employers in the region consider most important. Graduates will also be better prepared to meet various credentialing requirements.
Students interested in completing a mental health counseling program in the state, they will have plenty of options. Some of these include Southern New Hampshire University, Plymouth State University, Rivier University, Antioch University, New England College, and other New Hampshire schools with related educational programs.
Education requirements for mental health counselors are set and maintained by the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) Board of Mental Health Practice. While relevant degrees may be available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, only individuals who have completed master’s and/or doctorate programs will be eligible to apply for state licensure.
Notably, undergraduate degree programs can lead to other community and social service occupations in New Hampshire. There are still many employment opportunities available to graduates of this kind.
Online Associate Degree in Mental Health Counseling (AS)
Associate degrees in mental health counseling specifically are fairly uncommon. Prospective students interested in becoming mental health counselors typically enroll in other related subjects in order to gain the basic knowledge and skills needed to enter more advanced programs in the future. The most applicable majors for this field include counseling, mental health, human services, behavioral science, social science, and psychology.
Degrees of this kind generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete Every curriculum is unique, but it’s common for undergraduate programs to include both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. By studying various topics in communication, mathematics, and science in addition to major-specific content, students receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for further learning.
Notably, this type of degree does not meet the minimum requirements for licensure as a mental health practitioner in New Hampshire. It can, however, lead to a variety of entry-level jobs in community and social service. Graduates are also well-prepared to enroll in related bachelor’s degree programs.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Mental Health Counseling (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in mental health counseling are still relatively uncommon. As a result, prospective students interested in becoming mental health counselors must still enroll in other related subjects. The most applicable majors for this field include counseling, mental health, human services, behavioral science, social science, and psychology. In some cases, it may also be possible to select mental health counseling as a concentration.
Degrees of this kind generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. These are undergraduate programs, as well, which means that program curriculums still tend to include both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Continuing to study various topics in communication, mathematics, and science ensures students receive a well-rounded education that can be applied to various facets of life, as well as further academic pursuits if desired. Additionally, those majoring in counseling-related subjects can expect to receive a broad introduction to the most important subjects in the field. This usually entails studying behavioral health and counseling theories.
Again, this type of degree does not meet the minimum requirements for licensure as a mental health practitioner in New Hampshire. Graduates can, however, apply for various entry-level jobs in community and social service. They also tend to be well-prepared for enrollment in mental health counseling degrees at the master’s level.
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Online Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling (MS or MC)
Master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Graduate-level programs no longer incorporate general liberal arts classes. Many do, however, require applicants to pass specified undergraduate courses, or prerequisite, prior to admittance. This ensures all incoming students possess the basic knowledge and skills needed for advanced study in the field.
Course requirements vary, but those enrolled often study various topics in lifespan development, attachment theory, group dynamics, interviewing techniques, counseling theories, diagnostic practices, and ethics. It’s also common for students to participate in supervised counseling experiences. While these provide hands-on experience in the field, associated supervision hours do not count towards licensure requirements in New Hampshire.
Notably, this type of degree does meet the minimum requirements for licensure as a mental health practitioner in New Hampshire. As long as the academic program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP), graduates can apply to become clinical mental health counselors in the state. At this level, you can also specialize your education to complete a program in group counseling, clinical mental health counseling, school counseling or career counseling, family therapy, addictions treatment, human development, organizational psychology or group development, mental illness treatment, etc. Successful completion of a CACREP accredited program will help you reach your professional goals in the helping professions with all academic requirements under your belt.
Online PhD Degree in Mental Health Counseling (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in mental health counseling may consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. It generally takes about six years to complete.
As terminal degrees, these programs require students to meet high academic standards. Curriculums differ by institution, but commonly include the study of various advanced concepts in key specialized topics. Other common areas of study include strategic analysis research, research design, quantitative research, and qualitative research.
While students generally spend the first portion of their enrollment receiving traditional classroom instruction, later years are frequently spent conducting independent study and research. In most cases, these degrees culminate in the writing, presentation, and defense of dissertations.
This type of degree meets licensure requirements for mental health practitioners in New Hampshire. As long as the academic program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP), graduates can apply to become clinical mental health counselors in the state. Graduates may also qualify for various high-level jobs in clinical settings or as secondary education instructors.
Become a Mental Health Counselor in New Hampshire
To become a mental health counselor, you must be licensed by the state in order to practice. This process is overseen by the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) Board of Mental Health Practice. The board ensures that the services provided by mental health professionals are effective. It also safeguards the consumer against harm that may be caused by unqualified, impaired, or unlicensed practitioners.
The board regulates the following licenses:
- Clinical Mental Health Counselors
- Clinical Social Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Pastoral Psychotherapists
- School Social Workers
Applicants must meet a variety of education and experiential requirements to obtain licensure in the state, although the qualifications necessary depend on the credential sought. Each option has unique academic, testing, and field-work components that must be fulfilled before the credential is awarded. Most initial license applications can be completed online.
In New Hampshire, all mental health practitioner applicants must demonstrate good character. Individuals may be found to be lacking good character if they submit false materials, have any complaints pending against licenses or certificates issues by other bodies, are denied licensure by another professional association, is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, has past or pending suits alleging malpractice, or has experienced emotional disturbance. If evidence of any of the above-mentioned items is supplied to the board, the candidate in question will be denied licensure.
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Those interested in obtaining licensure as a mental health practitioner in New Hampshire are expected to provide a wide variety of materials throughout the application process. In addition to submitting the application form provided by the board, there is also a non-refundable application fee which must be in the form of a check or money order payable to the State of New Hampshire.
Candidates must be prepared to supply the following:
- All supporting documents
- An original copy of a criminal offender record report issued by each state where the applicant has resided
- 2” x 2” passport qualify photographic taken within 90 days
- Results from required licensure examination
- Places of residence for the five years prior to applying
- Original certified transcripts for both undergraduate and graduate courses
- Status of any current or former licenses or certifications
- “Summary of Supervised Clinical Experience” form
- “Supervisor’s Confirmation of Clinical Experience” form
- Three separate and distinct professional references
Notably, candidates are responsible for providing additional information and/or documentation as determined necessary. The board will make a formal request for these materials within 60 days of the date the application is received.
Mental health counselor applicants are also responsible for meeting various educational requirements. All candidates must have a 60 semester hour master’s or doctoral degree in clinical mental health counseling from an institution accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).
The degree must also include coursework consisting of at least 33 semester hours from the following areas:
- Human Growth and Development
- Abnormal Psychology / Psychopathology
- Clinical Counseling Theories
- Clinical Counseling Techniques
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Group Work
- Professional Orientation and Ethics of Mental Health Counseling
- Career and Lifestyle Development
- Testing and Assessment
- Research and Program Evaluation
- Addictive Behaviors
Practical experience is necessary, as well. All applicants need to complete at least two years of post-master’s or doctoral supervised clinical work experience in a mental health setting. Each year must be no less than 1500 clock hours. Acceptable clinical supervised experiences require direct, formal contact with a supervisor who is responsible for clinical development and guidance. It may only be provided by a licensed clinical mental health counselor who is not a spouse, civil union partner, close relative, and therapist of the applicant.
Before the practical experience can begin, however, candidates for licensure must complete, sign, and submit a “Candidate for Licensure: Supervision Agreement” form. Both the applicant and the supervisor must provide a significant amount of personal and professional information to the board via this document including name, contact information, place of employment, proposed starting date, and proposed completion date.
Additionally, all applicants for mental health counselor licensure must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam, which is distributed by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). This test is designed to assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities determined to be important for providing effective counseling services. It consists of 11 case studies, each of which begin with a narrative and is then followed by nine to 15 multiple-choice questions. The exam must be completed within 255 minutes.
Content is pulled from the following six domains:
- Professional Practice and Ethics
- Intake, Assessment, and Diagnosis
- Areas of Clinical Focus
- Treating Planning
- Counseling Skills and Interventions
- Core Counseling Attributes
Once completed, licensure applicants are responsible for submitting evidence of passing scores. Written verification from the NBCC sent directly to the board is acceptable. Candidates may also provide a “Request for Results of Examination Score” form.
Potential Careers for Mental Health Counseling Graduates
- Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists work with people experiencing psychological issues caused by mental conditions, environmental impacts, and/or personal circumstances. They are generally responsible for evaluating, diagnosing, and providing treatment for issues such as depression, anxiety, and various behavioral problems. As individual needs and circumstances vary, they must spend a lot of time performing assessments in order to establish the most appropriate treatment plans. According to PayScale, clinical psychologists make an average base salary of $83,574 per year.
- Direct Support Professional
Direct support professionals work with individuals with disabilities, providing assistance completing a wide variety of tasks. Every situation is unique and requires different services. Some of the most common duties performed by these professionals include maintaining patient records, administering medications, fostering community integration, and supporting the development of important social skills. They may also provide personal care, household support, and/or transportation when necessary. According to PayScale, direct support professionals make an average base salary of $34,884 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors utilize curative counseling in one-on-one and group sessions to diagnose and treat various psychological conditions and illnesses. While rarely authorized to prescribe medications, they have the knowledge and skills needed to help address a wide range of mental health issues. In some cases, they opt to specialize in treating certain demographics and/or sub-fields. It’s important to note that counselors are According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $45,695 per year.
- Mental Health Technician
Mental health technicians work in mental health facilities, providing support and various services to patients. In addition to helping maintain overall calming atmospheres, these professionals spend a lot of time assisting those admitted with everyday activities such as bathing, grooming, and eating. In some cases, they may be expected to manage or help run organized activities and/or therapy sessions. It’s also their responsibility to report concerns and/or irregular occurrences to superiors. Additional duties commonly assigned include administering medications, answering phones, keeping records, and/or performing various janitorial tasks. According to PayScale, mental health technicians make an average base salary of $34,643 per year.
Psychometrists evaluate the cognitive, behavioral, academic, neuropsychological, and/or emotional status of others using specialized testing and scoring methods. This data is then utilized by specialists in order to diagnose and treat patients. It’s also common for these professionals to perform various clerical duties, such as billing, coding, and ordering office supplies. According to PayScale, psychometrists make an average base salary of $48,358 per year.
- Rehabilitation Counselor
Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals diagnosed with mental and/or physical disabilities. These professionals are capable of providing a wide range of services, the majority of which are meant to help enhance the quality of life of their patients and/or to help them live more independently. Every case is different, but they generally spend a lot of time performing needs assessments and skills development activities. It’s also common for these professionals to request input and support from other healthcare professionals. According to PayScale, rehabilitation counselors make an average base salary of $48,477 per year.
- Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists work with sports professionals, typically providing advice and various support services as needed. Job parameters vary, but they are typically available to help athletes, coaches, and referees address challenges commonly associated with athletic training and competition. Examples of this range from assisting coaches as they manage the pressures of leadership to aiding athletes as they deal with the ramifications of physical injury. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $76,927 per year.
- Addictions Counselor
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: New Hampshire. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Board of Mental Health Practice. New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC)
- Chapter Mhp 300 License and Registration Requirements, Applications and Fees. New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC)
- About the NCMHCE. National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC)