Why Counseling?

"Whatever the reasons, individuals that choose to seek a career in counseling usually have one thing in common—a desire to help people work through life’s challenges."—Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor

For more than 100 years, clinical mental health counselors have been called by their desire to help, advocate for, and support those looking for meaning, direction, and fulfillment. Today, one in five Americans suffers from mental illness, and there has never been a greater need for trained, caring clinicians. For people facing challenges, mental health counselors offer a connection to hope and a healthier life.

If you are interested in becoming a mental health counselor, you must earn a master’s in counseling and subsequently seek licensure to practice in your state.

What Is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

The field of mental health counseling is rooted in historical perspective. Beginning in the 1800s as a form of advice-giving and evolving to today’s research-based practice, counseling has always sought to provide guidance and support to those in need. Learn about what mental health counselors do, and discover how they help individuals, families, couples, and groups address life challenges and choices—from managing stress to overcoming addictions. You can also explore our History of Counseling timeline to learn more about the field.

Is a Mental Health Counseling Career Right for Me?

The mental health profession offers a range of career options, from social work to psychology to counseling. To help decide which one is right for you, consider the differences between these fields.

Which Careers Are Available?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects careers in mental health counseling to grow 19 percent between 2014 and 2024. Due to changes in the American health care system, advances in research, and a growing need across the country, graduates who hold a master’s in clinical mental health counseling are well positioned to make a broad impact across a range of settings. Learn more about careers in mental health counseling.

How Do I Become a Mental Health Counselor?

To become a mental health counselor, you must earn a master’s degree in counseling and meet the requirements for licensure in the state in which you will practice. Northwestern University offers its Master of Arts in Counseling degree program online, enabling you to earn a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from one of the world’s most recognized universities no matter where you live in the United States.