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

For those living in the Rockford, Illinois area, there are many career and education opportunities for mental health counselors. About 3,280 people are currently employed as mental health counselors in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 34% to 4,400 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow by about 24.0%. In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention.

The income of a mental health counselor is about $18 hourly or $38,270 per year on average in Illinois. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $17 per hour or $36,810 per year on average. 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. People working as mental health counselors can fill a number of jobs, such as: corrections caseworker, elder counselor, and licensed clinical social worker .

The Rockford area is home to twelve schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Rockford where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. The most common level of education for mental health counselors is a Master's degree. 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 Rockford include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Rock Valley College - Rockford, IL

Rock Valley College, 3301 N Mulford Rd, Rockford, IL 61114-5699. Rock Valley College is a medium sized college located in Rockford, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,030 students. Rock Valley College has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated eight students in 2008.


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.



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


Rockford, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois photo by Kranar_drogin

Rockford is situated in Winnebago County, Illinois. It has a population of over 157,272, which has grown by 4.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Rockford, 78, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Rockford are valued at $125,600 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, sixty-four new homes were built in Rockford, down from one hundred fifty-seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Rockford are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is metal and metal products, construction, and machinery. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 19.8% of Rockford residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Rockford is 17.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Rockford residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.0%, is less than both the national and state average. Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, South Park Covenant Church and Souls Harbor Church are among the churches located in Rockford. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church.

Rockford is home to the McPhail Hall and the Mary McGaw Hall as well as Ken-Rock Park and Jamestown Park. Shopping malls in the area include Alpine Village Shopping Center, Eleventh Street Plaza Shopping Center and Fairview Shopping Center. Visitors to Rockford can choose from Extended Stay America - Rockford East, Courtyard Rockford and Hampton Inn Rockford for temporary stays in the area.