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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Seattle, Washington

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for mental health counselors in the Seattle, Washington area. There are currently 2,840 working mental health counselors in Washington; this should grow by 21% to 3,450 working mental health counselors in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as 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 $17 hourly or $37,410 yearly on average in Washington and about $17 hourly or $36,810 yearly on average nationally. Incomes for mental health counselors are not quite as good as in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy in Washington, and not quite as good as the overall Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Mental health counselors work in a variety of jobs, including: group home counselor, licensed professional counselor , and therapist.

The Seattle area is home to sixty-five schools of higher education, including ten within twenty-five miles of Seattle 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 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 Seattle 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Seattle Community College-Central Campus - Seattle, WA

Seattle Community College-Central Campus, 1701 Broadway Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122. Seattle Community College-Central Campus is a medium sized college located in Seattle, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,402 students. Seattle Community College-Central Campus has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, one to two year which graduated 11 students in 2008.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, associate's degree which graduated 20 students in 2008.

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom - Lakewood, WA

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom, 9401 Farwest Dr SW, Lakewood, WA 98498-1999. Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom is a medium sized college located in Lakewood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,632 students. Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated four and two students respectively in 2008.

Clover Park Technical College - Lakewood, WA

Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499-4004. Clover Park Technical College is a medium sized college located in Lakewood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,781 students. Clover Park Technical College has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated three and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, associate's degree which graduated 8 students in 2008.

Tacoma Community College - Tacoma, WA

Tacoma Community College, 6501 S 19th St, Tacoma, WA 98466-6100. Tacoma Community College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,942 students. Tacoma Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated twenty-seven and twenty students respectively in 2008.

Highline Community College - Des Moines, WA

Highline Community College, 2400 S 240th St, Des Moines, WA 98198-9800. Highline Community College is a medium sized college located in Des Moines, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,267 students. Highline Community College has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, associate's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated six and thirteen students respectively in 2008.

Bellevue College - Bellevue, WA

Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Cir SE, Bellevue, WA 98007-6484. Bellevue College is a large college located in Bellevue, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 11,748 students. Bellevue College has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated ten students in 2008.

Argosy University-Seattle - Seattle, WA

Argosy University-Seattle, 2601-A Elliott Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121. Argosy University-Seattle is a small university located in Seattle, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 448 students and an admission rate of 85%. Argosy University-Seattle has a master's degree program in Mental Health Counseling/Counselor which graduated thirty-three students in 2008.

Lake Washington Technical College - Kirkland, WA

Lake Washington Technical College, 11605 132nd Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98034-8506. Lake Washington Technical College is a small college located in Kirkland, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,010 students. Lake Washington Technical College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated five and eight students respectively in 2008.

Olympic College - Bremerton, WA

Olympic College, 1600 Chester Ave, Bremerton, WA 98337-1699. Olympic College is a medium sized college located in Bremerton, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 6,596 students. Olympic College has a one to two year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling which graduated two students in 2008.

Edmonds Community College - Lynnwood, WA

Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036-5912. Edmonds Community College is a medium sized college located in Lynnwood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,823 students. Edmonds Community College has 2 areas of study related to Mental Health Counselor. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, one to two year and associate's degree which graduated four and four students respectively in 2008.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, less than one year, one to two year, and associate's degree which graduated four, six, and two students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.