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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Lincoln, Nebraska

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for mental health counselors in the Lincoln, Nebraska area. There are currently 910 working mental health counselors in Nebraska; this should grow 40% to 1,280 working mental health counselors in the state by 2016. 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. In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention.

Income for mental health counselors is about $18 hourly or $38,220 yearly on average in Nebraska. Nationally, their income is about $17 per hour or $36,810 per year. Incomes for mental health counselors are better than in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy in Nebraska, and not quite as good as the overall Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Jobs in this field include: group home counselor, domestic violence advocate, and clinical mental health counselor.

The Lincoln area is home to twenty-five schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Lincoln where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors usually hold a Master's degree, so you can expect to spend about six years studying to be 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 Lincoln 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.
  • 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

Southeast Community College Area - Lincoln, NE

Southeast Community College Area, 301south 68th Street Place, Lincoln, NE 68510-2449. Southeast Community College Area is a large college located in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 10,557 students. Southeast Community College Area has an associate's degree program in Clinical/Medical Social Work which graduated fifty-three students in 2008.

Vatterott College-Spring Valley Campus - Omaha, NE

Vatterott College-Spring Valley Campus, 11818 I Street, Omaha, NE 68137. Vatterott College-Spring Valley Campus is a small college located in Omaha, Nebraska. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 329 students. Vatterott College-Spring Valley Campus has an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated seven 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.


Counselors/Mental Health Professionals

Licensing agency: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Address: Division of Public Health - Licensure Unit, PO Box 94986, 301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, NE 68509-4986

Phone: (402) 471-4905
Website: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health - Licensure Unit


Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska photo by Stack

Lincoln is situated in Lancaster County, Nebraska. It has a population of over 251,624, which has grown by 11.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Lincoln, 80, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Lincoln cost $170,100 on average, which is above the state average. In 2008, five hundred thirty-nine new homes were constructed in Lincoln, down from eight hundred twenty-nine the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Lincoln are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, educational services, and public administration. The average commute to work is about 17 minutes. More than 33.3% of Lincoln residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 11.2%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Lincoln is 4.1%, which is less than Nebraska's average of 4.5%.

The percentage of Lincoln residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 45.4%, is less than both the national and state average. Saint John Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church and Calvary Lutheran Church are some of the churches located in Lincoln. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Church.

Lincoln is home to the Cedars Home and the AGP Grain Cooperative Elevator as well as Abel Stadium and 40th and Highway 2 Park. Shopping malls in the area include Gateway Mall, Sutter Place Mall and Edgewood Shopping Center. Visitors to Lincoln can choose from Comfort Suites, Ramada Limited North and Quality Inn Airport for temporary stays in the area.