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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Chicago, Illinois

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for mental health counselors in the Chicago, Illinois area. Currently, 3,280 people work as mental health counselors in Illinois. This is expected to grow by 34% to about 4,400 people by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow by about 24.0%. Mental health counselors generally counsel with emphasis on prevention.

Income for mental health counselors is about $18 per hour or $38,270 yearly on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $17 hourly or $36,810 annually. Incomes for mental health counselors are not quite as good as in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy in Illinois, and not quite as good as the overall Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Mental health counselors work in a variety of jobs, including: psychologist, crisis clinician, and children's therapist.

The Chicago area is home to 180 schools of higher education, including fifteen within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors usually hold a Master's degree, so it will take about six years to learn to be a mental health counselor if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years if you have 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 Chicago 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.
  • Social Services Assistant. Assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. May assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them. May assist social workers with developing, organizing, and conducting programs to prevent and resolve problems relevant to substance abuse, human relationships, or adult daycare.
  • 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

Oakton Community College - Des Plaines, IL

Oakton Community College, 1600 E Golf Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016-1268. Oakton Community College is a large college located in Des Plaines, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,552 students. Oakton Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated four and four students respectively in 2008.

National-Louis University - Chicago, IL

National-Louis University, 122 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603. National-Louis University is a medium sized university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 6,874 students and an admission rate of 56%. National-Louis University has a master's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling.

College of DuPage - Glen Ellyn, IL

College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6599. College of DuPage is a large college located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,668 students. College of DuPage has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two and two students respectively in 2008.

College of Lake County - Grayslake, IL

College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030-1198. College of Lake County is a large college located in Grayslake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 16,359 students. College of Lake County has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated one and four students respectively in 2008.

Roosevelt University - Chicago, IL

Roosevelt University, 430 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605-1394. Roosevelt University is a medium sized university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,708 students and an admission rate of 43%. Roosevelt University has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Mental Health Counseling/Counselor, master's degree.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, less than one year and master's degree which graduated nine and zero students respectively in 2008.

Saint Augustine College - Chicago, IL

Saint Augustine College, 1333-45 W Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640-3593. Saint Augustine College is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,275 students. Saint Augustine College has a less than one year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated three students in 2008.

Adler School of Professional Psychology - Chicago, IL

Adler School of Professional Psychology, 65 East Wacker Place, Suite 2100, Chicago, IL 60601. Adler School of Professional Psychology is a small school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 601 students. Adler School of Professional Psychology has a post-master's certificate program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated ten students in 2008.

City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College - Chicago, IL

City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College, 30 E Lake St, Chicago, IL 60601-2449. City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College is a medium sized college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,342 students. City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College has less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree programs in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated thirteen, fourteen, and five students respectively in 2008.

Moraine Valley Community College - Palos Hills, IL

Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills, IL 60465-0937. Moraine Valley Community College is a large college located in Palos Hills, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 17,477 students. Moraine Valley Community College has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two students in 2008.

South Suburban College - South Holland, IL

South Suburban College, 15800 South State Street, South Holland, IL 60473-1200. South Suburban College is a medium sized college located in South Holland, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,105 students. South Suburban College has a less than one year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated one student in 2008.

Governors State University - University Park, IL

Governors State University, 1 University Pky, University Park, IL 60466-0975. Governors State University is a medium sized university located in University Park, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 5,457 students. Governors State University has a master's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling.

City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College - Chicago, IL

City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett, Chicago, IL 60634-1500. City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College is a large college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,677 students. City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College has a less than one year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated six students in 2008.

Triton College - River Grove, IL

Triton College, 2000 5th Ave, River Grove, IL 60171-1995. Triton College is a large college located in River Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,547 students. Triton College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated three and three students respectively in 2008.

City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College - Chicago, IL

City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College, 6301 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60621-2709. City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College is a medium sized college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,873 students. City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree which graduated twenty-eight, twelve, and seven students respectively in 2008.
  • Mental Health Counseling/Counselor, one to two year which graduated 1 student in 2008.

Institute for Clinical Social Work - Chicago, IL

Institute for Clinical Social Work, 200 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 407, Chicago, IL 60601-5908. Institute for Clinical Social Work is a small school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 92 students. Institute for Clinical Social Work has a post-master's certificate and a doctor's degree program in Clinical/Medical Social Work which graduated zero and five 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

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR, CLINICAL

Licensing agency: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Address: 320 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (217) 782-8556
Website: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.