(HealthNewsDigest.com) – Undertaking a new degree is a huge step and will be incredibly rewarding. You will learn new skills, meet people, learn about yourself, have experiences, and gain knowledge that you may not have access to without this level of education. A masters in mental health counseling online is perfect for anyone who loves working with people and who is after a career change or wants to take the next step in the counseling career. Here are just a couple of things to consider when studying for a masters in mental health counseling online.
What is the course?
A masters in mental health counseling online is an educational course aimed to help graduates prepare for their licensing exams. It is taught through various methods, including online coursework, internships, and in-person fieldwork, to provide you with the skills and knowledge to progress in your chosen area of mental health counseling. Many roles within mental health counseling require a degree and licensing, so a masters in mental health online is the logical next step if you want to work in counseling. Masters degrees build upon knowledge and skills from your previous education and life experiences, giving you a deeper understanding of your chosen subject, and access to resources and opportunities that you may not have had before.
Is it for you?
Typically, this course is for people who already have a bachelors degree, and wish to change their career or further their previous education and training in order to become a fully licensed mental health counselor. A masters in mental health counseling online is designed for people who want to study mostly from home, such as those with jobs or family commitments. It provides a high level of education with the flexibility that many full-time, in-person courses can lack. The course is demanding and challenging, helping you to prepare for life as a mental health counselor, developing important skills such as cultural competency, critical thinking, and communication. Modules are varied and delve deeper into counseling, with topics such as abnormal psychology, human growth and development, and internship opportunities.
What are the qualities of a mental health counselor?
As well as the technical skills you will learn with a masters in mental health counseling online, there are many characteristics and personality traits that are beneficial in counselors. You may already have many of these, and just need some more knowledge and guidance in order to learn how to use them in a counseling setting.
Listening and communication
It is important to have both great listening and communication skills when you are a counselor. You will need to listen to what your clients are saying, focusing your full attention on them and making them feel heard and comfortable. Furthermore, you will also need to pay attention to non-verbal cues and what is not being said. Many people may not want to speak to you for a variety of reasons, so understanding things such as body language can help you navigate and approach difficult situations.
You will need to communicate with a range of different people, who will have varying levels of understanding in relation to what you are talking about. Being able to alter your speech and communication methods depending on the person you are talking to is a valuable skill to have. For example, you would not speak to a young child in the same way you would speak to a healthcare professional, and vice versa. Being adaptable in your approaches and communication can help you reach a wide range of people and efficiently deliver information in a way that they can understand.
Empathy and objectivity
These two traits may seem to oppose each other, but in many medical professions, they are compatible and essential. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others by imagining yourself in their situation. As a counselor, you will be very experienced, but you won’t have felt every emotion or been in every situation that your clients have, so you will need to use empathy to try and understand them. Objectivity is remaining judgment-free and not allowing biases or personal beliefs to get in the way of your work. Both of these traits are important in a successful counselor, as you need to emotionally connect with a client without overloading yourself or letting personal preferences cloud your services.
Teamwork and collaboration
You will be working with a wide range of people and will often be part of a multidisciplinary team. Therefore, you will be expected to collaborate with many other people, such as healthcare providers, social workers, and probation officers. It is essential that you work well as part of a team in order to provide the most effective counseling to your clients. Depending on the area of counseling you work in, you may have more interaction than in others. For example, it is common for substance abuse or veteran counselors to collaborate with larger teams as there are many different elements to each case.
What are the career outcomes?
Completing a masters in mental health counseling online is the first step in pursuing a career in mental health counseling. There are many different areas within this industry, and you could find yourself working in various locations. By studying a masters in mental health counseling online, you will gain the general skills and knowledge required, and hopefully learn more about what kind of counseling you would like to work in. From there, you can pursue the extra qualifications and experience necessary to enter that field. Here are just a few of the roles and locations you would work in:
A mental health counselor who works with veterans will usually be part of a larger team of specialists. Typically tasks and services you will provide include multiple assessments of the client, treating complex mental health conditions that are usually accompanied by physical conditions, making a treatment plan, case management, and assisting in individual and group therapy.
When working with clients who abuse substances, you will perform a wide range of roles and tasks. You will need to alter your services depending on your client’s level of functionality and substance abuse, often moving from direct intervention to monitoring and maintaining their sobriety over time. Other tasks include providing psychotherapy, case management, behavioral health interventions, and collaboration with many other specialists such as healthcare providers or probation officers.
Mental health counselors can work in both regular hospitals and psychiatric hospitals and again provide a range of services. They assess a patient’s mental health and are also trained to look out for signs of other issues such as substance abuse. A large part of their work is case management, and helps prepare the patient for life after they have been discharged. This can include helping with insurance, making recommendations and referrals, and educating the patient and their family in many areas.
Working with young people and children can be very challenging but incredibly rewarding. You may work in a variety of settings, from private weekly counseling to residential counseling. Services can include assessment and diagnosis, case management, making treatment plans, and also helping develop skills that will help the young person move out of the facility.
Correctional counselors work with inmates, usually in state or federal prisons, but sometimes in residential care facilities or with recently released offenders. There are many tasks involved in being a correctional counselor, including relapse-prevention plans, teaching skills that can help when finding employment and education, referrals and recommendations to different prison programs, and monitoring their improvement.
Becoming a residential counselor involves working with groups or individuals in a residential setting, such as a care home, university, shelter, or rehabilitation center. The jobs involved will vary depending on the type of residential location, but they mainly involve caring for the needs and safety of the residents, providing life skills coaching, planning activities, and making referrals and recommendations.
Should you study online?
Another important factor to consider when thinking about studying a masters in mental health counseling online is whether you would benefit from the styles of teaching and learning. There are many benefits to studying online, and many courses are now designed especially for distance learning. They are designed with people in mind who already have commitments such as a job or a family and who want to gain qualifications in their own time.
One of the great things about online study is that it can reduce the costs involved in being a student, which is one of the main factors that prevent many people from pursuing education. You will most likely be working from home, so you won’t have to worry as much about finding accommodation on or near campus, let alone travel and transport costs. Many institutes also offer online courses that are cheaper than in-person courses, financial support and student benefits, and access to many brilliant resources.
Distance learning can allow you to study at an institution that may be too far away from you to physically attend due to a variety of factors, such as distance or finances. This makes the courses much more accessible, as they can be studied by a wider range of people, from your home or local area. Furthermore, your local college or university may not offer the type of courses or qualifications you want, which is another barrier in your journey. When you study a masters in mental health counseling online, your location matters less. If you have a job or a family, it may also not be possible for you to travel or take long periods away in order to attend classes. This is where online courses are incredibly helpful, as you can study from home and fit your classes around your life.
You will, of course, learn lots of technical and specialist skills during your degree, but you will also gain valuable personal skills that will make you a great employee. Soft skills are non-technical skills that allow you to thrive in the workplace, and are extremely transferrable. They include traits and skills such as teamwork, communication, self-motivation, time management, and adaptability. Many of these skills come into play when you are studying online, as you will need to be organized and motivated in order to complete your work from home, where there may be many other distractions. An online degree provides you with practical examples of these skills to provide employers during job interviews, and to include on your resume.
Another of the benefits of online study is its flexibility. Working at your own pace has many benefits and can allow you to absorb the information you are studying better. A classroom environment may not work for everyone, as people have different learning styles. Online learning means you can work your study around your schedule, learn at your pace, and spend time going over certain sections if you need to. You are also able to still receive support from tutors, and contact them with questions or queries.
There are also many different types and styles of learning, and completing an online masters can help you discover the learning and teaching methods that work best for you. This will be useful during your degree and also in the future, as you will have an understanding of how your brain best absorbs new information, making you an efficient learner.
A masters in mental health counseling online is a great investment for your life and career. Counseling is a difficult but rewarding career and can allow you to truly help and support a wide range of people. If you love working with people, this could be the perfect career for you. Online degrees are designed for those with previous qualifications who want to study and gain a qualification without putting the rest of their life on hold. If this sounds like you, a masters in mental health counseling may just be the next step in your career journey.