Employment Outlook -
M.A. Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
When depression, stress, anxiety, abuse, trauma, loss, suicide ideation and varying somatic complaints are part of a client’s presenting problem, initial intake information will often uncover intense events that have resulted in compounded grief and loss. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older – about one in four adults – suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year (NIMH, 2007). When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. The burden of mental illness on health and productivity in the United States and throughout the world has long been underestimated. As a result there is a tremendous need for counseling and counselor education both nationally and internationally.
Concurrently, the 21st century is characterized by a dependence on technology and media industries, globalization, constant change and greater complexity. All these factors contribute to the unpredictable nature of our current existence. In today’s digital age, a number of resources keep us informed and connected: email, Internet, IM, podcasts, skype casts, text messaging, blogs, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, YouTube, web video sites and virtual worlds. Advocates of the benefits of technological change see emerging and converging technologies as offering hope for the betterment of the human condition. Yet, many say we could be at a spiritual risk because all these new technologies serve as isolation devices that pull us from our faith and meaningful relationships with others. This is especially true for you in the online community. It will be essential for you to develop online relationships with your instructors and fellow students. These relationships will be enhanced through annual residencies. It is important, as best as possible, to avoid isolation through the development of these relationships.
Today, there is a tremendous need for counselors to meet the mental health needs of clients. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor shows that overall employment of counselors is expected to grow faster than the average, i.e., an increase of 30 percent or more for all occupations through 2014. In addition, numerous job openings will occur as many counselors retire or leave the profession. While job prospects will vary with location and specialization, opportunities generally should be very good because the number of job openings that arise should exceed the number of graduates of counseling programs. Mental health counselors and school counselors will be needed to staff statewide networks that are being established to approve services for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances and their families. Under managed care systems, insurance companies are increasingly providing for reimbursement for counselors as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. Mental health counselors and school counselors work with individuals, families and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to promote mental health. They are trained in a variety of techniques used to address issues including depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, problems with self-esteem, and grief. They also help with job and health concerns; educational decisions; issues related to mental and emotional health; and family, parenting, marital, or other relationship problems. Mental health counselors often work closely with other mental health specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses and school counselors (source: www.bls.gov, retrieved 01/20/08).
Employment of school counselors is expected to grow with increases in student enrollments at postsecondary schools and colleges and as more states require elementary schools to employ counselors. Expansion of the responsibilities of school counselors should also lead to increases in their employment. For example, counselors are becoming more involved in crisis and preventive counseling, helping students deal with issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to death and suicide (U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 2007).