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Can a Felon Be a Mental Health Counsellor?

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Mental health counsellors and licensed mental health counsellor (LMHC) are professionals who counsel people with mental health issues. According to a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 2016 report, approximately 16.2 million US adults living admit to having one or more major depressive episodes.

The NIMH is a US governmental agency and a network of professionals who assert that it is normal to exhibit grief and sadness. In fact, the agency refers to these depressive symptoms as ‘normal human emotions’.

However, major depression is not normal, it is a condition that can be diagnosed by a mental health counsellor. Major depressive disorder symptoms last a long time or forever. Similar symptoms include loss of appetite, low energy levels, overwhelming grief, and lack of interest in hobbies, activities, family, or other things.

Opportunities for felons

Job seekers with felony convictions hit more roadblocks when searching for suitable employment opportunities. Even when a suitable job comes along, there is no guarantee you will be offered the position. It is crucial to never give up. When you fail, get up, dust off, and try again. Fortunately, there are employment opportunities for convicted felons.

Here are some examples:

  • Barber
  • Computer support specialist
  • Cosmetologist
  • Culinary worker
  • Dog trainer
  • Freelance writer
  • General labourer
  • Landscaper
  • Marketing specialist
  • Mechanical engineering technician
  • Mobile app developer
  • Oil derrick operator
  • Plumber
  • Retail clerk
  • Wind turbine technician

How can mental health counsellors help?

There are way too many people struggling with mental illness ignoring their conditions. Those who do seek help, often times end up seeking treatment at local mental health clinics, community health centres, and private medical practices. It is unfortunate, but with the help of mental health counsellors, some of these victims see some improvement in their conditions. 

Mental health counsellors assess and diagnose mental illness disorders, heading self-help groups, and working one-on-one with patients. Patients are permitted to talk about their situations, conditions, and goals while counsellors document their findings. There is no doubt, mental health counsellors play a major role in helping patients recover to their maximum potential.

Types of depression

There are two primary types of depressive disorder. These include persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder. Various factor triggers symptoms associated with these mental health conditions. Hopelessness, frustration, teary-eyed, anger outbursts, irritability, sleep problems, tiredness, and low energy levels, all of which last for a long time or forever. 

Mental health counsellor training

To meet the qualifications of a mental health counsellor, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in sociology, social work, or psychology human service field. To further your education and career, experts recommend an undergraduate degree in another human services field, such as counselling.

Students must complete specific prerequisite courses before applying to a master’s degree program that is accredited. Getting into an accredited master’s degree program is generally not difficult when applying to local colleges and universities. Just submit your paperwork as soon as possible to avoid deadlines.

Some restrictions

In most cases, felons will have the opportunity to become mental health counsellors in the future. However, it depends on the circumstances. If you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to achieve your goals. With that being said, it depends on the type of crime you were convicted of. You’ll want to go above and beyond to make sure that you’re a good candidate for the job.

As long as you weren’t convicted of certain crimes, you can get this position. For instance, you cannot become a licensed mental health counsellor in some states if you’ve been convicted of sexual assault or murder. You’ll need to check the laws in your area to determine whether you can become a mental health counsellor despite having a felony conviction on your record.

Mental health counsellor requirements

Becoming a mental health therapist doesn’t have to be overly difficult. You just need to make sure that you’ve completed the requirements. For instance, you’re going to need proper training. Those who wish to obtain this job must obtain a master’s degree from an accredited program.

For the best results, make sure that the program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll need to obtain supervised clinical experience.

In general, you’ll need between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of experience. Furthermore, you’re going to need at least one hundred hours of direct supervision. After that, you’ll need to apply for a licence with your state’s board. Before you can get the licence, you have to complete and pass an exam.

You’ll also want to consider taking the National Certified Counselor exam. Either way, it is important to remember that you can achieve your dream of becoming a mental health counsellor.

You just need to work hard and dedicate yourself to it. If you do that, you’ll be able to overcome your past and achieve your goals.

Average salary

Remember that therapist is a term that is used broadly. It can be used to cover a handful of professions. With that being said, you need to learn more about the specific career that you prefer. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics offers information about therapists in the United States.

On average, therapists in the United States can make as much as $46,000 each year. Plus, the agency expected 25% job growth between 2019 and 2029. Suffice to say, the industry is growing swiftly and the demand for therapists is higher than ever.

In some areas, therapists can make $60,000 or more each year. Suffice to say, you should not hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity. Doing so could pay dividends in the long run. If you’re interested in getting a job as a therapist, you’ll need to work hard. Even if you have a felony conviction on your record, you can likely get this job.

Summary

Ultimately, a felon may be able to come to a mental health counsellor as long as they work diligently. With that being said, you shouldn’t give up on your goals. If you want to become a mental health counsellor, you should dedicate yourself to this process.

It won’t be easy, but you can do it. You’ll want to work hard each day in hopes of achieving your dream. As long as you do that and don’t give up, you will become a mental health counsellor despite having a felony conviction on your record.


Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has a particular interest in mental health and well-being.

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