How to get a mental health therapist?

Call a psychiatry or psychology department at the university and ask for recommendations from people trained in that program. Ask friends and family who are in therapy if they can recommend someone to you. If they like their therapist, there's a chance you might like it too. It can be comforting to know that someone you trust has already had a good experience with them.

Just make sure they fit your health insurance plan if you have one, or that you have a sliding scale (you pay less if you make less money) if you don't. Several mental health organizations maintain up-to-date, searchable databases of licensed therapists. Once you are licensed, you can apply for mental health counseling certifications. The NBCC offers a Certified Mental Health Clinical Counselor (CCMHC) certification for counselors who have completed a 60-credit graduate degree, who are either an NCC and have at least 3,000 hours of graduate clinical experience.

To work as a licensed professional mental health counselor, you'll likely need a master's degree. This advanced degree of mental health counseling may require an additional one to four years of graduate study, depending on your program choice, type of enrollment, and how often you take courses. You must also complete your clinical hours for a specified period based on state guidelines. For example, the California Behavioral Services Board stipulates that a licensed professional clinical counseling candidate complete 3,000 hours for a minimum of 104 weeks.

BLS projects employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorders and mental health counselors to grow 25% by 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. If none of these options work, you can look for free support groups, such as those offered through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Other low-cost options include local nonprofit and community mental health clinics. Use the Behavioral Health Services Administration's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Service Locator to find clinics in your area.

Sometimes, the first person you visit may not feel well or may be inexperienced with your particular mental illness. Before obtaining the mental health counseling license, you must gain practical experience through graduate and graduate internships under the supervision of licensed counselors. While mental health counselors do not prescribe medication to their clients, they often work in multidisciplinary teams with other providers, such as psychiatrists or primary care providers who are licensed to issue prescriptions. Other positions that may interest you include health educators, community health workers, social workers, and school counselors.

Most people who treat a mental health condition have at least two different professionals, one focusing on medication (the biological side) and the other focusing on emotional or behavioral therapies (the mental side). Taking a mental health counseling curriculum that includes courses such as lifespan, human development, and abnormal psychology early in your program can help provide an advantage when you advance to your graduate work. A mental health counselor is not the same as a psychiatrist, who is a medical professional licensed to prescribe medication for diagnosed disorders. Once you meet the requirements set by your state, you can apply for a mental health counselor license.

Be sure to review the mental health counseling licensing requirements in the state in which you want to practice before taking any steps to become a mental health counselor. You can search for them on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's treatment locator. As a licensed mental health counselor, you may want to stay up to date on trends and changes in the mental health field. Online assessment is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

BLS projects employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorders and mental health counselors to grow 25% by 2029.Mental health counselors take a holistic, client-centric approach to providing care to their clients. Because each journey is unique, the steps you take to become a licensed mental health counselor may differ from those of your peers. . .

Diana Anzaldua
Diana Anzaldua

Diana Anzaldua, LCSW - S, TYCT, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher in Central Texas. As the founder and owner of Austin Trauma Therapy Center, she teaches clients new skills for coping and adapting to the daily stresses of life so they can live the life they imagined by connecting them to their true authentic selves. Diana has been featured in industry magazines & websites such as Bustle, Hello Giggles, Yahoo, PBS, Allure, and more. Diana started this website to help answer FAQs for people interested in learning more about therapy around the world!