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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Houston, Texas

If you want to be a mental health counselor, the Houston, Texas area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 2,950 working mental health counselors in Texas; this should grow 27% to 3,760 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.

Mental health counselors earn approximately $16 per hour or $35,300 per year on average in Texas. Nationally they average about $17 per hour or $36,810 annually. Mental health counselors earn less than people working in the category of Counseling and Therapy generally in Texas and less than people in the Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Mental health counselors work in a variety of jobs, including: domestic violence advocate, correctional counselor, and licensed clinical social worker .

There are four schools within twenty-five miles of Houston where you can study to be a mental health counselor, among eighty-one schools of higher education total in the Houston area. Mental health counselors usually hold a Master's degree, so 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 Houston 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

San Jacinto Community College - Pasadena, TX

San Jacinto Community College, 8060 Spencer Hwy, Pasadena, TX 77501-2007. San Jacinto Community College is a large college located in Pasadena, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,677 students. San Jacinto Community College has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated one student in 2008.

Lee College - Baytown, TX

Lee College, 511 S Whiting, Baytown, TX 77520. Lee College is a medium sized college located in Baytown, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,968 students. Lee College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated one and eight students respectively in 2008.

Lone Star College System - The Woodlands, TX

Lone Star College System, 5000 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77381-4399. Lone Star College System is a large college located in The Woodlands, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,331 students. Lone Star College System has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling.

Alvin Community College - Alvin, TX

Alvin Community College, 3110 Mustang Rd, Alvin, TX 77511-4898. Alvin Community College is a small college located in Alvin, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,386 students. Alvin Community College has a less than one year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two 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.


Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas photo by Hequals2henry

Houston is located in Harris County, Texas. It has a population of over 2,242,193, which has grown by 14.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Houston, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Houston are valued at $173,500 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, 3,684 new homes were constructed in Houston, down from 6,035 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Houston are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 27 minutes. More than 27.0% of Houston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Houston is 8.0%, which is less than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of Houston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, 34th Temple Church of God in Christ and Pentecostal Church of God in Christ are some of the churches located in Houston. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Houston is home to the Champion Rod and Gun Club and the Independence Heights Residential Historic District as well as Hermann Park and Hennessey Park. Shopping centers in the area include Windsor Plaza Shopping Center, Meyerland Plaza Shopping Center and Meyerland Shopping Center. Visitors to Houston can choose from Capital Inn, Bradford Homesuites - Houston Galleria and Best Western Fountainview Inn and Suites for temporary stays in the area.