Skip To Content

group of people, three women and one man, chatting in a hallway

If you are an empathetic, compassionate person with strong listening skills and a desire to help others, counseling might be a natural career match. Earning a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling could prepare you to pursue numerous professional opportunities where you impact the lives of individuals, families, and communities. In this blog, we explore potential paths and specializations available to individuals with a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

3 Popular Career Options in the Clinical Mental Health Field

1 Licensed Counselor*

Earning a clinical mental health counseling master’s degree can prepare you to pursue licensure in your state and to sit for a national certification exam, such as the National Certified Counselor (NCC) exam, from the National Board for Certified Counselors. However, before choosing a counseling program, check with the licensing board in the state in which you plan to seek licensure. It’s important to know state requirements for counselors so that you pick the appropriate program for you!

After you become licensed, you may pursue work in private practice or look for opportunities in places like counseling centers, hospitals, community mental health agencies, treatment centers, schools, and correctional institutions. In these roles, you would assess and diagnose clients, develop treatment plans, and provide therapy services for people with mental, behavioral, or emotional challenges. Your services might include individual, group, or family counseling.

As a counselor, you may support clients in areas like:

  • Setting and achieving goals
  • Improving communication skills
  • Increasing self-esteem and overall mental health
  • Changing patterns and behaviors
  • Managing stress and anxiety
  • Living with mental health disorders and diseases
  • Addressing difficult issues in their lives

Clinical mental health counselors also have the option to specialize in specific client issues or populations, which we’ll talk about more later in the blog.

2. Clinical Supervisor

After gaining experience as a counselor, you could become a clinical supervisor. In this role, you would oversee and mentor other counselors, providing guidance, support, and feedback to help them improve their counseling skills.

3. Program Director or Administrator

If you demonstrate strong leadership skills and acquire experience in the counseling field, you could work as a program director or administrator in mental health agencies, counseling centers, or non-profit organizations. In these roles, you would oversee and manage counseling programs, develop budgets and policies, and ensure effective service delivery.

7 Common Counseling Specializations

1. Substance Abuse Counseling

With your expertise in mental health counseling, you could specialize in substance abuse or addiction. You would work with individuals to help them to overcome addiction and substance issues and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Counselors in this field provide assessment, intervention, and support services to promote recovery and prevent relapse.

2. Marriage and Family Counseling

If you're interested in working with couples and families, you can pursue a career as a marriage and family therapist. In this role, you would assist couples and families in improving communication, resolving conflicts, strengthening relationships, and navigating life transitions and other challenges.

3. Child and Adolescent Counseling

This specialty involves working with children and adolescents who may be dealing with various mental health challenges. As a mental health counselor in this specialty, you may address issues like behavioral problems, academic difficulties, anxiety, depression, and family conflicts.

4. Geriatric Counseling

Geriatric counselors focus on the mental health needs of older adults. In this role, you would work with clients to address issues that might include grief and loss, depression, chronic illness, cognitive decline, caregiving, and end-of-life planning.

5. Career Counseling

Career counselors assist individuals in making informed career decisions, exploring job options, and navigating career transitions. As a career counselor, you might provide your clients with career assessments, guidance on job search strategies, and support in developing career goals and plans.

6. Trauma Counseling

Trauma counselors work with individuals who have experienced trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters, or combat. Trauma counseling involves helping clients process traumatic experiences, manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and develop healthy coping strategies.

7. Community Mental Health

This specialization involves working in community settings to provide mental health services to underserved populations. Counselors in this field may address issues such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, and access to mental health resources.

Taking the Next Steps on Your Career Journey

The job and specialization examples above* are just a few of the possible options you may decide to pursue after receiving a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. Because opportunities will vary based on your location and state licensing or certification requirements, it's essential to research the requirements of any career path you choose.

At South University, our Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to prepare students with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to meet the local and regional need for qualified counselors. This program is offered at campuses in:

Our goal is to prepare you to meet the eligibility criteria to sit for licensure exams in your state and pursue certification as a National Certified Counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Visit our program pages to learn more today!


*It is up to each student to review the national and state licensure requirements for licensure, as well as the eligibility criteria to sit for licensure exams. South University cannot guarantee each graduate will pass the required licensure examinations. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University. South University does not promise or guarantee employment.