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

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for mental health counselors in the McAllen, Texas area. Currently, 2,950 people work as mental health counselors in Texas. This is expected to grow by 27% to 3,760 people 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 about $16 per hour or $35,300 per year on average in Texas and about $17 per hour or $36,810 yearly on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy, people working as mental health counselors in Texas earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy nationally. Mental health counselors work in a variety of jobs, including: mental health clinician, mental health therapist, and mental health program specialist.

The McAllen area is home to nine schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of McAllen 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 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 McAllen 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.
  • 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

The University of Texas-Pan American - Edinburg, TX

The University of Texas-Pan American, 1201 W University Dr, Edinburg, TX 78539-2999. The University of Texas-Pan American is a large university located in Edinburg, Texas. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 17,584 students and an admission rate of 64%. The University of Texas-Pan American has a bachelor's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling.


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.


McAllen, Texas
McAllen, Texas photo by L1CENSET0K1LL

Mcallen is located in Hidalgo County, Texas. It has a population of over 129,776, which has grown by 22.0% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Mcallen, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Mcallen cost $174,400 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, five hundred seventy-three new homes were constructed in Mcallen, down from seven hundred fifty-four the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Mcallen are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, educational services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 19 minutes. More than 23.6% of Mcallen residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Mcallen is 7.4%, which is less than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of Mcallen residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Emmanuel Baptist Church, Family of Faith Fellowship Church and First Missionary Baptist Church are some of the churches located in Mcallen. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Mcallen is home to the Sam and Marjorie Miller House and the McAllen Memorial Library as well as Schupp Park and Archer Park. Shopping centers in the area include Las Tiendas Plaza Shopping Center and La Plaza Shopping Center.