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How to Become a Mental Health Therapist or Counselor

Interested in furthering your career as a mental health professional? Read on.

If you’re looking to pursue a rewarding career as a mental health professional, you may have considered earning a master’s degree in counseling. And with the demand for counselors projected to increase—particularly for school and career counselors—now is a great time to start your educational journey.1 But what exactly does the process entail? Here are some helpful pointers to follow you if you’re wondering how to become a counselor or mental health therapist.


1. Find a university that offers your counseling degree of choice.
The right university will offer the counseling program you’re looking for with the flexibility you need to continue working full time. For instance, Walden University’s online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program was designed to provide working professionals with a high-quality education using a convenient learning platform. When you choose an online university, you can earn your counseling degree from wherever you have internet access.

2. Choose a specialization.
Next, you’ll want to make sure the online counseling degree program you’re considering offers a focus area that aligns with your interests and career goals. In the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Walden, you can choose from an array of specializations, including Addiction Counseling; Forensic Counseling; Trauma and Crisis Counseling; Military Families and Culture; and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.

3. Confirm the curriculum standards.
As you plan for your counseling educational journey, you’ll want to ensure you’re learning from the latest, most relevant curriculum possible. To do this, find out if the content in the program you’re considering is consistent with the standards set forth by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. You may also want to confirm that program faculty are active mental health professionals and current American Counseling Association members.

4. Complete your degree program.
Most online degree programs offer a mix of coursework, labs, field experiences, and internships to help prepare you for the scenarios you might encounter as a mental health therapist or counselor. You will study areas such as diagnosis and assessment, psychopharmacology, and ethics and legal issues in counseling.

5. Research certification and licensure requirements.
After graduating with your advanced counseling degree, the next step is to pursue licensure and certification. Each state has its own requirements, but the most require that individuals be certified by a national certification board. Walden’s clinical mental health master’s program is designed to prepare you with the expertise and confidence you need to sit for your licensing exam and meet the requirements of many state counseling boards.

6. Begin your career in counseling.
Depending upon your specialization, you may have access to employment opportunities in a variety of settings, including community mental health centers, inpatient/outpatient facilities, hospitals and healthcare settings, social services agencies, correctional facilities, and private practice. No matter which environment you choose, you’ll be sure to embark upon a fulfilling counseling career.

Earn Your MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Walden, an Accredited University

Does becoming a counselor sound like the right career path for you? If so, Walden’s CACREP-accredited MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is a great choice. With diverse specializations, expert faculty, and cutting-edge simulations that depict real-world scenarios, you can gain the skills you need to advocate for mental health and help clients overcome their greatest challenges. And thanks to online education, you can better maintain a work-life balance while you earn your master’s degree.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering high-quality online counseling degree programs, including an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CACREP accreditation is a requirement for licensure in many states.

Note on licensure: The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Because no graduate program can guarantee licensure upon graduation, we encourage students to consult the appropriate agency to determine specific requirements. For more information about licensure, students should visit the National Board for Certified Counselors at and/or the American Association of State Counseling Boards at, and contact the appropriate licensing body. International students are encouraged to identify and contact their appropriate licensing body. Learn more about professional licensure.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,