Why a Masters in Mental Health Counseling Online Could Be Right for You

Last Updated: March 31, 2021

Written by Guest Writer

Whether you are at the start of your journey towards becoming a counselor or are thinking of taking the next steps, an online masters in counseling could be right for you. Becoming a counselor is a challenging but rewarding career choice, and there are many different qualifications and licenses that you will need in order to become a fully qualified and competent counselor. Here are a couple of reasons why a masters in mental health counseling could be right for you. 

What is it?

An online masters in counseling is a masters of science in educational clinical mental health counseling and can help provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experience requires to prepare you for your professional licensing exams. The course includes a combination of online learning and in-field practice, which means that you can work from home and put your knowledge into practice in a physical environment. There are many different modules that will grow and test your knowledge, such as an internship, abnormal psychology and theories and techniques of counseling. 

If you are passionate about helping people, becoming a counselor could help you turn this passion into a career. An online masters in counseling can provide you with high-quality, affordable training to develop your skills and knowledge and prepare you to help the lives of many different people. There is a lot of education and certification required to become a counselor, so undertaking an online masters in counseling is a great way to build your knowledge and career. 

Is it for you?

Studying at masters level has plenty of different benefits. You will have access to people, opportunities, and a level of education that you won’t be able to experience elsewhere. Furthermore, many people who have a masters degree have higher paid careers, and more career options. If you are considering becoming a counselor, an online masters in counseling can help you achieve this in a more flexible, cost-effective way. As well as the technical skills and knowledge you will need, you will benefit from having certain traits and qualities that help to make a great counselor.

Empathy

This is the ability to place yourself in the shoes of another in order to understand their feelings and emotions. Empathy is incredibly important in counseling, as it will help build your relationship with your client, make sure your counseling is focused on them, and stimulate self-exploration. It is also vital to be objective and not let your personal opinions and beliefs get in the way of delivering high-quality counseling services. You will be dealing with clients from a range of different backgrounds and will need to treat each one with the same level of empathy and lack of judgment. 

Communication

An incredibly important counseling skill, communicating and listening, can help build the relationship with the patient and deliver the best counseling services you can. Some clients may be less willing to talk to you than others, so you will also need to understand and look out for non-verbal forms of communication such as body language. Communication is also important with people outside of your counseling clients, such as other medical professionals or people involved in cases like social workers. You will be working with and talking with a wide range of people who have different levels of understanding of medicine and mental health. Understanding how to alter your approaches and the way you talk to different people will mean that you can effectively and accurately convey information to them. 

Teamwork

Often, as a mental health counselor, you will be part of a larger team of other professionals when working with a case or client. This means that you will have to work together and collaborate with individuals from a variety of fields and with different levels of knowledge. Being able to work well with others is a valuable skill in any career, and in counseling, it can help you to provide the best overall services to your client. 

Organization

You will need to be incredibly organized as a counselor, as you will be doing a lot of case management, and will need to keep accurate and up-to-date files on your clients. Furthermore, you will often have multiple clients at the same time and will need to approach each individual with a consistently high level of care, professionalism, and competency in order to deliver high-quality counseling services. 

If you have these qualities and more, and feel that you want to progress to the next level of study in your journey to becoming a mental health counselor, an online masters in counseling could help you to achieve this.

Benefits of Online Study

Another main reason why an online masters in counseling may be right for you is the ability to study the majority of the course online. This makes it much for accessible for those who cannot commit to full-time, in-person study. The course is designed for people who already have other commitments, such as a family or job, and want to continue their education without putting all of that on hold. An online masters in counseling can allow you to pursue your dream career of becoming a mental health counselor, and can also teach you a lot about yourself. You will be able to develop both technical and personal skills during the completion of your course that will help you succeed in your chosen career path.

Location

You may be limited to what your local institutions offer, which could mean that your dream course is not available to you. When you study online, your physical location matters much less, opening up many more opportunities for you. Furthermore, studying online gives you more control over your studying environment, and you can make the course work for you. If you don’t enjoy working in a classroom environment, the ability to work from home can help you take information in better, give you more time to work at your own pace, and find ways of learning that benefit you.

Finance

Often, the cost of studying is something that puts a lot of people off. An online masters in counseling is designed to be more cost-effective, and you also don’t have to worry as much about the living costs associated with being a student. Working from home also means that you don’t have to worry so much about renting accommodation on or near campus, as well as the costs that come with traveling and commuting. Online learning can make education more accessible by reducing or even removing some of these costs. Also, the ability to keep working whilst you study online means that you can continue earning money alongside earning your qualification.

Flexibility

Having more control over your education makes it more flexible, and this can have its own benefits. The ability to work at your own pace can make the course seem much more manageable and achievable. It can also help you to learn a lot about how your brain works and develop positive skills and techniques in regards to learning that you can continue to use throughout your life and career. Adaptability, creative thinking, and problem-solving are also great skills to have in any career, and these will be developing during your time studying online, as this way of learning comes with its own challenges.

Skills

An online masters in counseling will help you to gain technical skills and knowledge in the field of counseling but can also help you develop your soft skills. These are a set of transferable, non-technical skills that help you succeed in the workplace. Employers often look out for them, and an online masters in counseling can provide you with practical examples that you can give in an interview. Soft skills can include communication, conflict resolution, creative thinking, problem-solving, and self-motivation. You may already have many of these skills, but they can always be developed and worked on. 

Online study can help boost your time management and organization skills, as you will need to make sure your work is completed to a consistently high standard whilst maintaining your other commitments. This can benefit your work as a counselor, as you will often have multiple clients and will need to treat each one with the same level of care and professionalism. Being able to multitask is a valuable skill in any career, but especially as a counselor. 

Career Outcomes

An online masters in counseling can help prepare you to work in a variety of different roles and settings. You may already have an idea as to where you would like to specialize or still be unsure and want to experience some different areas. Becoming a counselor is a varied and challenging role, and many jobs within the industry require further qualifications and certifications. When thinking about becoming a counselor, it is important to plan your educational journey to make sure you are doing the right things to reach the career you want. Here are just a couple of the roles and settings you may work in:

Veterans

When you work as a mental health counselor for veterans, you will be working as part of a larger team. This can include other medical professionals who are working to treat the physical ailments that accompany the mental health problems. Your tasks could include performing a variety of assessments and providing counseling services in individual or group therapy settings.

Young People

You could be a mental health counselor for children or young people, working to deliver individual counseling or counseling in a residential facility where the young person lives full time. Your tasks could include assessing and diagnosing, making treatment plans, and helping the young person to develop the skills they will need in order to leave the facility. 

Substance Abuse

In a similar way to working with veterans, when you are a mental health counselor for those abusing substances, you will be working as part of a multi-disciplinary team. This can include other healthcare and medical professionals, social workers, and probation officers. You will need to alter and tailor your services to your client as they change, which means that your services need to match their level of abuse and functionality. Your tasks can include providing psychotherapy, case management, and behavioral health interventions, and as your client progresses, you may move from direct intervention to monitor the maintenance of sobriety.

Correctional Facilities

Working as a counselor in a correctional facility is a very challenging role and involves working with inmates in many different settings, such as state and federal prisons, residential facilities, or hospitals. You can also work with newly released clients. The aim of a correctional counselor is to create relapse prevention plans, as well as helping clients prepare for education or employment. You may also make recommendations or referrals to different prison programs and monitor the progress of your client. 

Residential facilities

The term ‘residential facility’ covers many settings, such as care homes, universities, correctional facilities, or shelters. Working as a residential counselor is a very varied job, and your duties will vary depending on the type of facility you are working at. In general, you are concerned with the safety and needs of the residents. You may deliver individual or group therapy, monitor residents and clients, assist with transport, help organize activities and help to develop important life skills that residents will need outside of the facility.

There is a huge range of different roles and settings that you could work in as a mental health counselor, and the majority of them require you to hold at least a masters degree. You will also have to pass licensing exams and any further education that your desired area requires. Becoming a mental health counselor is rigorous and demanding, but can help you turn your passion to help people into a career. An online masters in counseling can provide you with valuable experiences and skills to help prepare you to undertake your licensing exams and progress in your chosen field of counseling.

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