Unstable economic times can affect not only a person’s ability to function productively from an employment standpoint, but also from an emotional standpoint. Public health services are beginning to focus more strongly on the impact of emotional stability in populations as an important part of health services. This scrutiny offers both better care for the community and more job opportunities for individuals.
If you are interested in mental health services, then the position of community counselor can provide you with a good employment position that also gives great public benefits. This public health career can help not only the people around you to find a better balance in life, but can also help you achieve that for yourself.
What Is A Community Counselor?
A community counselor offers mental health services to the public, and provides therapy and support for individuals in the general public. This may include one on one and group sessions to address emotional stressors and teach coping mechanisms. Community counselors may provide inpatient services as well through mental health facilities and work sponsored programs.
Community counselors would perform the following tasks as part of the job:
- Diagnose conditions in individuals and the community.
- Provide treatment therapies through sessions and interventions.
- Offer support to families of individuals who are in crises.
- Determine mental health needs for the population.
- Conduct educational classes on general mental health concerns.
Professional and personal skills that are also required as a community counselor would include:
- Listening skills: You will need to be able to establish trust and bonding with your clients. This will require you to be an attentive and sympathetic listener, while still maintaining your clinical objectivity.
- Communication: You will also be required to interact with people who are from a variety of demographic backgrounds. This means that you will need to impart information in support in a manner that is clear and accessible for the public.
- Observation: Whether you are in an individual session or conducting group therapy, you will need to have an eye for behavioral details, so that you can gather information about the emotional state of your clients in this manner.
- Critical thinking: You will also need to be able to extrapolate information from the observations you make and the sessions you conduct. This can include general assessments of the community as well as recovery paths for individuals.
Nature Of The Work
Community counselors may work as inpatient or outpatient providers. This can include individual clinical practices as well as sessions that are performed as the regimen in a facility. You may work at a public hospital or mental health facility, but may also provide treatment through community wellness centers, outreach organizations, and state mandated treatment interventions.
In some cases you may be required to meet with individuals and families within their residence. This allows you to observe interpersonal relations and family dynamics. Community counselors may also be required to submit reports about trends in public mental health needs to the public health department in order to facilitate more access to interventions.
Education And Training
Community counselors will need to complete undergraduate coursework, as well as a Master’s degree in clinical psychology. Four year education can focus on health and wellness, along with psychology social services, and related subjects. The graduate degree does need to be specific to clinical practice and interactions with the public. This may require that you complete an internship or residency as part of the educational track, which would count towards your credit hours in becoming licensed. If your coursework does not include this component, you will still need to gain the experience before you could practice.
Community counselors do need to become licensed to practice as psychologists. Along with the 2,000 to 4,000 experience hours, you will also be required to pass an examination through the NBCC. Licensure must also be maintained through continuing education and clinical practice.
The demand for community counselors is rising rapidly. This field in public health has one of the fastest growth rates, with nearly 50,000 positions becoming open over the next decade. This translates to an increase of almost 30%, and provides a number of opportunities to become an integral part of public health.
Pay scales for this occupation are also on the higher end. As an entry level community counselor you can make as much as $40,000 per year. Many counselors average closer to $70,000 in salary, although this will depend on the level of the position and the number of years you have been in clinical practice. If the idea of offering emotional wellness to the public interests you, then a career as a community counselor can offer you and your immediate population a great sense of stability.