Mental health affects a significant portion of the world population and requires proper evaluation and treatment from a licensed medical professional.
Why Work in Mental Health as a Counselor?
Gaining certification as a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) helps in the process of doing this. With the required education and practicum experience after receiving the degree, professionals will be prepared to work with clients directly to identify specific problems and develop a personal treatment plan.
A Master's degree is required when pursuing certification on a national level. For the CCMHC, at least 60 credit hours must go toward counseling, and a variation of these courses must involve mental health treatment and direct contact with groups and individuals. These programs must include at least 15 credit hours of clinical practicum experience.
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Education Requirements For This Certification
Graduate-level education is needed for both the NCC and CCMHC certifications. Specific to the CCMHC, this should be at least a Master's degree within the mental health field. Some programs do have disciplines specific to Clinical Mental Health, and there is online opportunities for potential students that are considering these degrees.
The curriculum must have at least 60 semester hours worth of topics in counseling, and there is a mandatory need in diagnosing and setting up treatment plans in a clinical setting. A handful of counseling topics must also be covered, such as marriage and family, human sexuality, and violence and abuse situations. At least two semesters should have courses in three specific categories.
In addition to meeting these curriculum requirements, the program should have regional accreditation to verify the education students will receive. This accreditation confirms that the education includes direct clinical training and supervised experience. In addition to gaining the certification, this also aids in the supervision and clinical training needed for state licensure.
Top Degree Programs For This Certification
Texas Tech University
The School of Health Professions offers the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This prepares individuals in becoming skilled in diagnosing behavioral problems and providing treatment that brings patients back to a normal state of mind. Treatment may include aid from their relationships, group counseling, and working with other health care providers.
This curriculum will satisfy the NCC and CCMHC certification requirements and licensure to become a mental health professional in their state. Students should review requirements and laws in specific states to determine if they need to add further supervision or clinical experience hours. After gaining the degree, students will have the academic needs in foundation and theory within mental health treatment, and be able to consult with clients in an ethical manner.
60 credit hours within the curriculum include various core courses in various counseling categories and assessment of patients. There is additional coursework in more specialized topics, such as dealing with patients in crisis and psychopharmacology. 12 credit hours are reserved for clinical experience, and there are elective opportunities that are not required within the curriculum.
Students are able to enter the program in the fall and spring semesters each year. Submission requirements include official transcripts, Bachelor’s degree within psychology and/or therapy from an accredited institution, at least a 2.7 GPA within the most recent 60 credit hours, updated resume, and at least two letters of recommendation. No GRE scores are required for this program, and there is a fee attached to the application needed with the other submission items.
Oregon State University
The Master of Counseling program has a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This program is offered in a hybrid format with classes online and offered at the Wilsonville campus. Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), this curriculum will satisfy many state licensures across the country.
The 90 credit-hour curriculum is geared for part-time students that are within the campus location with courses being held for two weekends each term. Online coursework is distributed through the OSU Ecampus system. Students should expect to complete the program with 3 and 1/2 years.
Within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialty, there is need to complete 54 total credits within the core program, 27 specialty courses, and electives within the concentration. Examples of specialty courses include Foundations of Mental health Counseling, Trauma-Informed Counseling, and Applied Psychopharmacology for Counselors. Up to nine credits can be used for a counseling internship for the elective options.
In addition to the academics, the practicum requires 100 hours of clinical experience, or six credit hours, and an internship requires a minimum of 600 clinical hours. Up to 24 credit hours of work can be utilized. There is also a requirement to complete 10 hours of group counseling for students to gain experience and familiarity working beyond just individuals.
University of West Alabama
The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is available online for applicants looking to receive the skills needed to diagnose and help patients that are dealing with mental health issues. 60 credit hours are needed to complete the program, which takes approximately two to three years to fulfill. Course schedules are divided up into eight-week sessions to move through the courses quicker and allow for clinical practicum.
In addition to the experience gained in clinical work and supervision, concentration course examples include Career Development and Counseling, Strategies for Crisis Intervention, and Counseling Multicultural Populations. The curriculum is divided up with 39 credit hours within the concentration, 12 credit hours of elective opportunities, and nine credit hours over professional courses that deal with lifelong learning, educational research, and educational statistics. Up to nine credit hours will be accepted in the graduation transfer process.
Prospective students should complete an application, send official college transcripts that detail competence in this field, and clear a background check. In addition, there is a portfolio that applicants should complete that reviews current career goals, acknowledges cultural differences, and offers similar submission recommendations for graduate programs, such as an updated resume and three letters of recommendation.
St. Bonaventure University
This online program, the Master of Science in Education Clinical Mental Health Counseling, gives students the ability to work with individuals one-on-one or group sessions and be part of the intervention process to help treat mental health disorders. There is additional education in understanding different communication within different cultures, being able to assess and develop treatment plans, and understanding the legal aspects of the business model within mental health counseling.
60 credit hours are needed to complete the program, along with up to 3,000 hours worth of supervised clinical experience. Courses in this program include Abnormal Psychology, which explores unique conditions and how to diagnose them. Research Methods provides multiple topics in how to collect and analyze data from these treatment procedures.
Professionals that have graduated from this program typically work in impatient and outpatient facilities, universities, private practices, and scientific research labs. This does prepare students to complete the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor examination, which is required for various licenses and the CCMHC certification. The school reports that there is a 98 percent pass rate for those taking the licensed professional counselor exam in certain states.
There are two in-person residencies that are required for online students, both requiring students to travel for on-campus education for a four-day span. This gives students a better understanding of group counseling with direct feedback from faculty, and there will be assignments that must be completed during this time. The Master’s degree is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
What Does It Take To Get This Certification?
Before looking into this particular mental health certification, there is a prerequisite requirement of becoming a National Certified Counselor (NCC). There are steps needed to receive this certification itself, including the completion of a Master’s degree with a discipline in counseling. There are specific disciplines available in Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Regarding the CCMHC certification, other needs to receive this certification include documenting over 3,000 hours of direct client work and 100 hours of supervision after graduation, acknowledging the Code of Ethics set by the NBCC, and obtaining a professional endorsement from an expert that was not part of the supervision process. The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination must be passed, and is offered in April and October each year.
After getting the certification, holders must recertify every five years and will need to meet specific requirements to keep their status. This includes continuing education psychotherapy theory, group counseling, psychology and psychopathology, and general testing. Candidates must also reaffirm their commitment to the ethics policy and all fees must be paid.
Becoming a licensed clinical professional counselor in mental health is one of the most popular opportunities to enter into with the CCMHC certification, and there are plenty of opportunities around the world. Receiving this type of education prepares these professionals to deal with individuals or groups dealing with behavioral problems, relationship struggles, substance abuse, and emotional instability. Duties not only include diagnosing problems, but developing successful treatment plans when implementing theory and data they have studied and practiced.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for mental health counselors is $46,240 across the country. This tends to be higher in hospitals and the government sector, and the highest 10 percent earn at least $76,080. Demand for mental health counselors will only grow in the future as the criminal justice system moves from criminalizing substance abuse issues to giving treatment for offenders.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are advanced positions in the field of mental health with varying skills and duties. Receiving a Master’s degree in mental health counseling is a solid foundation when considering these careers, but they will both require further education.
A doctorate degree in counseling or clinical psychology is generally required for psychologists, which furthers theoretical studies in human and mental behavior. This equates to a more advanced understanding of an individual’s behavior and works to correct any problems in that method. General counseling sessions are less intensive and lets patients work out problems with guidance.
What is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists? The latter are medical doctors that require medical internships and at least three years of postgraduate residency training. Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists, are able to prescribe medication for mental health patients in the treatment process.