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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Little Rock, Arkansas

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for mental health counselors in the Little Rock, Arkansas area. About 280 people are currently employed as mental health counselors in Arkansas. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 27% to about 360 people employed. This is better than the national trend for mental health counselors, which sees this job pool growing by about 24.0% over the next eight years. Mental health counselors generally counsel with emphasis on prevention.

Mental health counselors earn about $19 hourly or $41,160 annually on average in Arkansas and about $17 hourly or $36,810 yearly on average nationally. Mental health counselors earn more than people working in the category of Counseling and Therapy generally in Arkansas and less than people in the Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Jobs in this field include: treatment coordinator, crisis intervention therapist, and direct care counselor.

The Little Rock area is home to twenty-five schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Little Rock where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. Given that the most common education level for mental health counselors is a Master's degree, you can expect to spend about six years training to become a mental health counselor if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years starting with a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselor video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention. They also work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health.

Mental health counselors maintain confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment. They also encourage clients to express their feelings and consider what is happening in their lives, and help them to evolve insight into themselves and their relationships. Equally important, mental health counselors have to collect data related to clients through interviews and tests. They are often called upon to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems. They are expected to modify treatment efforts and approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status. Finally, mental health counselors formulate, organize and lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation and social activities for clients.

Every day, mental health counselors are expected to be able to piece together evidence to, in some sense, diagnose what is going on in a situation. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for mental health counselors to monitor clients' use of medications. They are often called upon to formulate and conduct programs to stop substance abuse or improve community health and counseling services. They also supervise other counselors, social service staff and graduate students. They are sometimes expected to schedule and direct employee workshops and training about mental health issues. Somewhat less frequently, mental health counselors are also expected to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems.

Mental health counselors sometimes are asked to design and implement treatment plans on the basis of clinical experience and knowledge. They also have to be able to ready and maintain all required treatment records and reports And finally, they sometimes have to learn about new developments in their field by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, and establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.

Like many other jobs, mental health counselors must have strong self control in the face of challenging situations and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Little Rock include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Health Education Specialist. Promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health by assisting individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies and environments. May also serve as a resource to assist individuals, other professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • Rehabilitation Counselor. Counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, or the stress of daily life. Coordinate activities for residents of care and treatment facilities. Assess client needs and design and implement rehabilitation programs that may include personal and vocational counseling, training, and job placement.
  • Substance Abuse Specialist. Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Mental Health Counselor Training

University of Central Arkansas - Conway, AR

University of Central Arkansas, 201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, AR 72035-0001. University of Central Arkansas is a large university located in Conway, Arkansas. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 12,961 students and an admission rate of 49%. University of Central Arkansas has a one to two year and a bachelor's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated zero and one students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified In Thanatology: Certification in Thanatology (CT) is a foundation certification that enhances the professional designation established by the academic discipline of each certificate holder.

For more information, see the Association for Death Education and Counseling website.

Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.

LICENSES

Counselor, Associate (LAC)

Licensing agency: AR State Board of Examiners in Counselors and Marriage-Family Therapist
Address: 124 South Jackson, McAlester Building, Suite #312, P. O. Box 70, Magnolia, AR 71754-0070

Phone: (870) 901-7055
Website: AR State Board of Examiners in Counselors and Marriage-Family Therapist

Counselor, Professional (LPC)

Licensing agency: AR State Board of Examiners in Counselors and Marriage-Family Therapist
Address: 124 South Jackson, McAlester Building, Suite #312, P. O. Box 70, Magnolia, AR 71754-0070

Phone: (870) 901-7055
Website: AR State Board of Examiners in Counselors and Marriage-Family Therapist

LOCATION INFORMATION: Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas photo by Broooooooce

Little Rock is located in Pulaski County, Arkansas. It has a population of over 189,515, which has grown by 3.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Little Rock, 87, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Little Rock cost $236,400 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, three hundred sixty-one new homes were built in Little Rock, down from seven hundred thirty-one the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Little Rock are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 35.5% of Little Rock residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Little Rock is 6.1%, which is less than Arkansas's average of 6.9%.

The percentage of Little Rock residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 59.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Macedonia Spiritual Church, Baseline Christian Church and Baseline Missionary Baptist Church are all churches located in Little Rock. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Little Rock is home to the Rock Creek Golf Course and the Barton Coliseum as well as McArthur Park Historic District and Meriwether Park. Shopping malls in the area include Mainstreet Market Shopping Center, Market Street Plaza Shopping Center and Markham Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Little Rock can choose from LA Quinta - Inns- Medical Center Area, Hampton Inn & Suites and Acme Motel for temporary stays in the area.