American Mental Health Counselors Association
The only organization working exclusively for the mental health counseling profession
 

Facts About Clinical Mental Health Counselors

 

What is a clinical mental health counselor?

Clinical mental health counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for education, training and clinical practice. Clinical mental health counselors are highly-skilled professionals who provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy. They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical, problem-solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution. Find a mental health counselor near you
Clinical mental health counselors offer a full range of services, including:
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Treatment planning and utilization review
  • Brief and solution-focused therapy
  • Alcoholism and substance abuse treatment
  • Psychoeducational and prevention programs
  • Crisis management

In today's managed care environment, clinical mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of providing high quality care in a cost-effective manner. Clinical mental health counselors practice in a variety of settings, including independent practice, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, employee assistance programs, and substance abuse treatment centers.

The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) is the professional membership organization that represents the clinical mental health counseling profession. Clinical membership in AMHCA requires a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health field and adherence to AMHCA's National Standards for Clinical Practice.

Graduate education and clinical training prepare clinical mental health counselors to provide a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. The core areas of mental health education programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) include:

  • Diagnosis and psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychological testing and assessment
  • Professional orientation
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Group counseling
  • Human growth and development
  • Counseling theory
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Supervised practicum and internship

Licensure requirements for clinical mental health counselors are equivalent to those for clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists, two other disciplines that require a master's degree for independent status.

A licensed clinical mental health counselor has met or exceeded the following professional qualifications:

  • Earned a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health discipline;
  • Completed a minimum of two years post-master's clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional; and
  • Passed a state-developed or national licensure or certification examination.