A licensed mental health counselor works with different types of patients in a variety of settings. Some work in clinics or hospitals treating patients as they arrive and in ongoing therapy. Others see patients in their homes for family counseling, and still others work in courts specifically overseeing matters of child custody and adoption. The counselor routinely deals with patients dealing with psychological issues. These may include - but are not limited to - substance abuse, depression, anxiety, relationships issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual violence, and domestic violence. To best aid patients, the counselor regularly consults with (and often reports to) other medical professionals, law enforcement, educational professionals, and courts.
A typical day for a counselor begins by reviewing upcoming scheduled patients and meeting with those patients. After each patient meeting, a recorded assessment of progress is noted in their patient file. Follow-up calls with other professionals to discuss patient care and treatment may be necessary. Meeting with hospitalized, institutionalized, or home-bound patients may also take place during the work day. Patient paperwork and notations to fellow professionals often require additional time in the office or at home.
A licensed mental health counselor spends many years training for this position. After successful completion of a master's degree in mental health, a prospective counselor then performs two years of supervised clinical experience. Then, the candidate takes a licensing exam to receive the title of licensed mental health counselor.