Mental Health Counselor Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do?

Mental health counselors work with individuals and groups to promote optimal mental health. They are responsible for helping others deal with addictions, abuse, suicide, family, parenting, and marital problems, and overcoming emotional and psychological problems. A mental health counselor should be skilled at discerning an individual’s words and actions, as a way to help them determine the root causes of their issues.

A master’s degree, as well as licensing, is required to become a mental health counselor. They work in hospitals, schools, and medical offices, and have the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with mentally or emotionally disabled individuals. Mental health counselors are compassionate and possess outstanding listening, verbal, and written communication skills.

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National Average Salary

Mental health counselor salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Mental Health Counselor is:


Mental Health Counselor Job Descriptions

Example 1

Primary function:

The Mental Health Counselor is a vital part of the ABC Company’s overall mission and vision. The ideal candidate has experience working with diverse clients, enjoys working with the youth and adolescent population, and has a desire to take the wellness and mental health programming at the organization to the next level.

This position will work closely with leadership and staff to enhance staff knowledge when working with the youth in our programs, as well as working closely to maintain a safe, equitable, and inclusive atmosphere.

Job responsibilities:

  • Provide individual counseling to ABC Company youth, families, and ABC Company staff.
  • Provide group counseling as needed across the 8 sites
  • Maintain records for grants as needed and as directed by the Executive Director
  • Maintain legal and ethical compliance in regards to client management software
  • Maintain a current license in good standing and following all federal, state, and local compliance standards
  • Uphold the ethical code of the profession as well as the code of conduct for the ABC Company
  • Build and maintain relationships with relevant partners (school counselors, outside agencies, parents, etc.)
  • Provide training to the staff on various topics including trauma-informed practices, emotional intelligence, regulation, etc.

Skills/knowledge required:

  • Master’s Degree from an accredited program
  • Current Idaho license in good standing; LPC, LCPC, LMSW, LCSW
  • Strong desire to work with and in the community
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience assessing clients using various scales or assessments, and building treatment plans using that data
  • Combining experience, best practice, and continued data collection to move the client toward treatment plan goals

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience in mental health or school setting providing individual, group, and/or family counseling
  • Knowledge of the ABC Company programs
  • Additional certifications in various styles of intervention to best meet client needs
  • A referral network to meet the needs of clients when those needs are out of your scope

Example 2


The Mental Health Counselor is responsible for performing a wide variety of patient care activities as directed by the Clinical Director. Mental Health Counselor will be responsible for patient caseload and will provide group, individual, and family therapy. Clinician will conduct psychosocial and bio-psychosocial assessments. Mental Health Counselor will collaborate with the Treatment Team to formulate the Master Treatment Plan, and assist in coordinating discharge planning. The Mental Health Counselor has primary responsibility for maintaining communication with the family, referral source and other service providers as needed.


  • Provides excellent individual, family and group therapy to assigned patients following program curriculum provided by Clinical
  • Completes all required documentation ensuring compliance with all company policies and procedures, state regulations, Joint Commission standards and Medical Needs Criteria. This includes the following documents:
    • Biopsychosocial Assessment
    • Integrated Summary
    • Comprehensive Problem List
    • Integrated Master Treatment Plan and Updates
    • Individual, family and group therapy session notes
    • Discharge summary
    • Effectively uses therapeutic interventions to assist patients with accomplishing all treatment plans goals and objectives and successfully complete
    • Effectively prepares patient for maintaining sobriety post
    • Maintain referent contact weekly or as required by Clinical Director.
    • Demonstrates sufficient comprehension of the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery and Substance Use Disorders
    • Consistently identifies areas for improvement within the department by studying data and developing, implementing and documenting plans for improvement and outcomes
  • Maintains positive relationships with all staff
  • Participate effectively in multidisciplinary treatment plan reviews
  • Maintains healthy boundaries with patients and staff
  • Asks for and accepts feedback from supervisors
  • Provides a safe and therapeutic environment to all staff and patients
  • Communicates significant patient developments to supervisor
  • Participates in Quality Improvement activities and contribute to the success of the organization
  • Pursues professional development through participation in education and training programs
  • Contributes positively to the morale of other staff
  • Performs other tasks, as assigned
  • Master’s Degree
  • At least two (2) years of clinical experience in mental health field (additional training may substitute for one year
  • Licensed in the state of Florida with one of the following:
  • Demonstrates proficiency in communication and written skills
  • Knowledge of State and Federal statutes regarding patient confidentiality laws
  • Knowledge of licensing and accreditation standards

Example 3

Job summary and qualifications

  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skill to provide for the care and comfort needs of psychiatric patient under the direction of the professional nurse.
  • Works as a member of a team and performs job tasks according to policy and procedure to ensure personal, patient and departmental safety.
  • Facilitates patient milieu interactions and a safe environment (rounds/safety searches).
  • Treats all patients, family members and/or significant others with dignity and respect in all interactions.
  • Functions in an organized and time conscious manner.
  • Documents appropriate information in the patient’s medical record.
  • Leads or Co-leads Education and Diversionary groups for adolescents, adults and substance abuse patients.
  • Adheres to all applicable policies and procedures. Supports the Mission of the Hospital.
  • Takes responsibility for own professional growth. Other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work or other human services field. (Required)


  • School or work experience in a Behavioral Health setting. Knowledge of group dynamics and understating of therapeutic milieu. (Required)
  • Previous experience in inpatient psychiatric care. (Preferred)


  • Basic Cardiac Life Support must be obtained within 90 days of employment start date
  • Nonviolent Crisis Intervention must be obtained within 60 days of employment start date

Sample Interview Questions

  • Why did you choose to be a mental health counselor?
  • What qualities should a mental health counselor possess to be effective?
  • Describe your counseling style.
  • What are your favorite therapy methods?
  • Tell me about a time you helped a client open up.
  • What are some of the assessments you have used to help your clients?
  • In your opinion, what are the most common mental and emotional problems children face nowadays?
  • What is DSM and how can therapists use it in practice?
  • When a client comes to your office for a consultation, what is the first thing you will ask them?
  • One of the clients, a 16-year-old boy, shares their suicide plans with you. What will you do?

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