Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage or overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and relationships.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with family and other relationships. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as private practice and mental health centers. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically are required to have a mastera€™s degree and a license to practice. The median annual wage for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists was $43,190 in May 2015. Employment of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists with similar occupations. Learn more about mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, and colleges. Working with and assisting clients with a variety of emotional and mental problems may be stressful. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists occasionally may travel to meet clients and patients.
Mastera€™s programs in mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy prepare students to provide counseling to couples, individuals, and groups.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a mastera€™s degree and a license to practice.
To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a mastera€™s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.
Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency.
All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,790. Employment of mental health counselors is projected to grow 20 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The number of individuals who have access to health insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform.
In addition, the number of military veterans needing and seeking mental health treatment is expected to increase over the next decade. Job prospects are expected to be good for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, particularly in rural areas or other communities that are underserved by mental health practitioners.


The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices.
America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments. Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities live independently. Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised.
The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensateda€”annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses.
The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.
The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.
The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile. The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.
Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.
The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.
Growth is expected in both occupations as more people have mental health counseling services covered by their insurance policies. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.
They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They also work in private practice and in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are mental health programs that some employers provide, to help employees deal with personal problems. Some counselors and therapists work evenings and weekends in order to accommodate their clientsa€™ schedules.
Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.
Licensure requires a mastera€™s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency.


Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.
Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists.
Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.
Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,960. Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The law requires insurance plans to cover treatment for mental health issues in the same way as other chronic diseases. The federal government, community clinics, and local hospitals will need to expand their mental health counseling staff to provide timely and effective treatment for veterans and active duty personnel. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area.
They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living.
Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions by helping them develop skills or choose a career or educational program. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.
One group of social workersa€”clinical social workersa€”also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.
They provide treatment and support to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.
Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses.
They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clientsa€™ families affect their mental health. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships. This will increase access to prevention and treatment services to more people who were previously uninsured, did not have these services covered, or found treatment to be cost-prohibitive.
Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state.
This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation. Mental health centers and other treatment and counseling facilities will need to hire more mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to meet this increased demand.



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