Qualifying as a Civilian Counselor


Leaving the service can be daunting, particularly if you’re unsure what do next. Joining the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force is more than a career choice; it’s a way of life. Returning to life as a civilian can be challenging, but having a designated career path can make the transition easier.

Training in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Becoming a qualified mental health counselor can be a rewarding career choice for anyone, but it’s particularly suited to veterans. Indeed, many veterans who work within the field of mental health consider it to be an extension of their service.

With the opportunity to work with other veterans who may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues, you may choose to specialize in working with ex-military personnel. In addition, you may want to focus on counseling civilian patients, including young people and children.

Sadly, the mental health crisis continues to grow and increasing numbers of people are seeking help from mental health professionals. With 1 in 4 people estimated to experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the employment of counselors will grow by 23% by 2026.

For those joining the profession, the increasing need for mental health counselors is indicative of a secure and satisfying career. Whether you choose to specialize in a particular area or assist patients with a wide range of issues, the ability to help people during the course of your work ensures veterans typically excel as counselors.

Recovering from Physical and Psychological Injuries

Being a member of the U.S. Armed Forces carries a relatively high risk of injury, both in terms of physical and psychological harm. Due to this, a considerable number of veterans have left active service due to a medical discharge. For many, it can be difficult to come to terms with leaving service due to an unforeseen medical condition.

Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may want to find a career which is less physically taxing, and which involves less direct exposure to traumatic incidents. While being a mental health counselor is challenging and rewarding, it doesn’t pose the same risk to health as some other job roles. By qualifying as a counselor, you can assist serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and civilians, regardless of any health problems you may have experienced yourself.

Furthermore, a career in mental health counseling gives you the opportunity to work in a different way. Instead of being separated from your family for weeks or months at a time, you may choose to take on a full or part-time role as a mental health counselor in your local area.

Becoming a Mental Health Counselor

There are many routes to qualifying as a mental health counselor, which means it’s a career that’s open to everyone. With training, certification and a high degree of empathy, you will be ready to begin seeing and assisting patients.

If you’re concerned that training as a counselor will be time-consuming and costly, you needn’t be. Virtual courses, such as an online master’s mental health counseling, offer a new way of learning. By combining online study with in-field training, you can learn at your own pace and from a location that suits you.

A Master’s course will ensure you are fully qualified in understanding the mental health issues your patients are likely to suffer, but it will also equip you with the skills you need to operate as a counselor. When assisting patients, for example, it is important to keep a professional distance and not take on the burden of their troubles.

While you’re qualifying, you will focus on issues such as the Professional Practice of Counseling and the Theories and Techniques of Counseling, as well as Abnormal Psychology. These types of modules are crucial to protecting your own wellbeing while you counsel patients, and will help you to cultivate a rewarding long-term career as a mental health counselor.

To practice as a counselor, you will need to obtain the appropriate license. Although licensure requirements can vary from state to state, undertaking a Master’s degree is a key criteria in many jurisdictions. In addition to providing you with the theoretical and practical tools you will need throughout your career, an online MSED in mental health counseling will help ensure you meet the licensing requirements to work as a recognized clinical mental health counselor.

Does this sound like a career path for you? Let us know how you get on.

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