A Guide to Beginning Your Career in Counseling

Counseling is one of the most exciting and rewarding careers in the world. It can be challenging, but it’s also immensely fulfilling. As a counselor, you’ll work closely with individuals, couples, and families. Whatever your goal is — be it to help someone overcome an addiction or to teach people about overcoming depression — there are many routes you can take in the mental health field specifically.

This post will provide you with the resources and guidance that will help get you started on your journey as a counselor. If you’re still not convinced that this career is what you want then here are some tips on how to prepare yourself for the challenge.

This article will go over the steps to starting in the mental health profession, what education is needed to become a mental health professional and what careers exist within this field.

Do I have the right personality traits?

First, let’s discuss what a counselor is. Counselors typically have a strong academic background in psychology and other related fields, such as social work or education. Clinical Mental Health Counselors specifically need to understand the psycho-social development of humans and the conditions that may arise during childhood and adolescence. 

You’ll also want to be well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which uses behavioral principles to help improve emotionality, behavior, relationships, and mental health. CBT can be used during both counseling sessions and after-care services. 

These are skills that can be learned. So what personality traits are typically found in successful counselors?

Traits such as:

– Empathy: 

Counselors need to be able to listen to their clients and understand what they’re experiencing on an emotional level. Not all counselors have this ability, but it’s important because it’s what helps develop trust and rapport between client and counselor.


Counselors have to listen to other people’s problems and offer advice that helps them cope with their issues. It can be difficult when you’re dealing with clients who have suffered a trauma or who have mental health issues. However, counselors need sympathy to work well with their patients.


Counselors are usually working with their patients for long periods. Consequently, this is another trait that comes very naturally for most therapists, as they need a lot of patience to listen over and over again for hours on end about the problems which the clients face in their daily lives.

– Nonjudgmental attitude and acceptance of others, including their differences: 

Not every client will be the same, and not everyone will react the same way. Counselors need to learn how to work with their patients in a nonjudgmental manner. They also need to understand that some patients are different from other people.


A sensitivity for others, the ability to listen and take in what others say, and a sensitivity to one’s self are all part of being able to care for people who suffer from mental health problems. Being able to “read” your clients and knowing when they’re able or not able to cope with their problems is key while working as any type of counselor.

-High emotional intelligence:

Counselors are in charge of counseling others, which is part of their job. They must be able to do this effectively because their clients and their patients depend on them. 

For these reasons, clinical counselors need a high emotional intelligence (EQ) and strong communication skills. They also need to be able to work with people as a team. They should have knowledge about emotional and mental health issues, but they also have to be able to provide psychotherapeutic conversations and care that can help people improve the quality of their lives.

All indications point to the fact that you’re ready for a career as a mental health counselor.

A career in mental health counseling is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of empathy and compassion for others, which is why it’s important to know if you have these qualities before you pursue this career path.

These traits aren’t innate. They can be learned over time through practice and experience, so if you’re not sure about your ability to show these traits, that’s okay! With the proper guidance and training, these traits can be learned, but before this article gets ahead of itself, let’s talk about how you can get started with your journey. The first thing you need to do is enroll in a good mental health counseling degree or internship program.

A Career in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Clinical Mental Health Counselors are an example of a unique type of counselor that work with people with mental illnesses and disorders. Clinical Mental Health Counselors are trained to provide therapy and treatment to those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. They are trained to provide therapy and treatment to individuals, couples, and families who struggle with their mental health. Clients may be individuals that are receiving treatment or they may be family members of a client.

Clinical Mental Health Counselors often work alongside other professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and social workers. They work to provide therapy and treatment to clients through the use of various forms of counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, family-based therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and problem-solving therapy. 

How to Get Started as a Mental Healthcare Professional

Mental healthcare professionals are in high demand. There are many different types of mental healthcare professionals and some of the most common ones are psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and psychologists.

Once you’ve decided that this will be the career for you, you have to start preparing yourself for it. You must know what to expect when it comes to being a Clinical Mental Health Counselor or another relevant job role.

Getting qualified

There are many aspects of becoming a clinical mental health counselor and one of them is your formal education. It’s not enough to just take a couple of classes in college or even graduate school. You want to do the proper research, choose a good school, and then join the program with the right mindset.

The first step towards preparing is getting a formal education in counseling or related fields. You will need to obtain an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree from a clinical mental health counseling program. 

At this point, you can pursue a career as a Social Worker or Marriage and Family Therapist. 

Next steps in your career

The next logical step in your career would be to get licensed in your state. You will also need to get certified by the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The requirements to become a clinical mental health counselor vary from state to state, but some are universal such as having the proper certifications, doing an internship, and some supervised counseling hours. 

You must check with your State’s regulations for becoming a Clinical Mental Health Counselor before you get started. 

Rewards of being a qualified counselor

Clinical Mental Health Counselors get to help people overcome their issues and take care of their needs. They can also help other professionals by providing them with counseling services as well as training them in counseling techniques. Go into this profession with the right mindset and you will have a rewarding career.

Careers in clinical mental health counseling:

While there are many career choices out there, Clinical Mental Health Counselors are likely to be very successful in any career that they choose. Here are a few popular careers for clinical counselors:

Family Therapist: 

Family therapists perform therapeutic interventions for families. They work with family members to help resolve conflicts, deal with emotional issues, and manage the behavior of family members both within and outside the home environment.

Therapeutic Clinician: 

Therapeutic clinicians use therapeutic techniques to help clients function at their optimal level. They may work in the school system, mental health clinics, and other places that serve individuals and families who need assistance.


Psychologists are members of the counseling profession who can help clients with a variety of issues, from managing stress to treating depression. Depending on their specialty, they study how social and environmental factors affect behavior as well as how to alleviate stress and deal with behavioral issues such as addiction.

Just because you’re interested in becoming a clinical mental health counselor doesn’t mean that the profession is without its challenges. You’ll have to study and practice your skills to become an effective therapist and counselor, but no matter what career path you take, all the steps are important and are necessary to get started in this career.

Study as much as you can about counseling before starting so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s something that is right for you. It’s a good idea to take several classes in college before deciding to go into a job-related field such as this. Make sure that the classes will actually help you improve your skills when it comes to counseling individuals and couples.

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