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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Chesapeake, Virginia

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for mental health counselors in the Chesapeake, Virginia area. The national trend for mental health counselors sees this job pool growing by about 24.0% over the next eight years. In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention.

The income of a mental health counselor is about $20 per hour or $43,090 yearly on average in Virginia. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $17 per hour or $36,810 yearly on average. Earnings for mental health counselors are better than earnings in the general category of Counseling and Therapy in Virginia and not quite as good as general Counseling and Therapy category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: child care counselor, residential child care counselor, and clinical mental health counselor.

The Chesapeake area is home to thirty-six schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Chesapeake 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. 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 Chesapeake 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.
  • 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

Thomas Nelson Community College - Hampton, VA

Thomas Nelson Community College, 99 Thomas Nelson Drive, Hampton, VA 23666. Thomas Nelson Community College is a large college located in Hampton, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,541 students. Thomas Nelson Community College has a less than one year program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 361 students in 2008.

Tidewater Community College - Norfolk, VA

Tidewater Community College, 121 College Place, Norfolk, VA 23510. Tidewater Community College is a large college located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,900 students. Tidewater Community College has a less than one year program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 184 students in 2008.

Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University, 5115 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23529. Old Dominion University is a large university located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 22,973 students and an admission rate of 72%. Old Dominion University has a bachelor's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 179 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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia photo by BetacommandBot

Chesapeake is located in Chesapeake City County, Virginia. It has a population of over 220,111, which has grown by 10.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chesapeake, 87, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Chesapeake are priced at $160,000 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, five hundred eighty-nine new homes were constructed in Chesapeake, down from seven hundred fifty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Chesapeake are educational services, health care, and public administration. For men, it is construction, public administration, and transportation equipment. The average travel time to work is about 25 minutes. More than 24.7% of Chesapeake residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chesapeake is 6.1%, which is less than Virginia's average of 6.4%.

Pleasant Grove Church, Refuge Mission Church and Saint Andrews Church are among the churches located in Chesapeake.

Chesapeake is home to the Jacks Camp and the Portlock Yard as well as Cascade Park and Ford Park. Shopping malls in the area include Great Bridge Shopping Center, Greenbrier Mall Shopping Center and Poplar Hill Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chesapeake can choose from Courtyard By Marriott, Chesapeake Travelodge Motel and Comfort Inn Bowers Hill for temporary stays in the area.