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 issues. A mental health counselor should be empathetic and extremely 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 use their outstanding listening, and communication skills to help better their patient’s lives.

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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

The first step when hiring a great mental health counselor is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

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 are your strategies for building a strong rapport with your clients?
  • Would you be able to describe your experience with evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?
  • In what ways do you tailor your approach to each client’s specific needs?
  • What was your most challenging case, and how did you resolve it?
  • As a mental health counselor, how do you ensure that you are adhering to ethical guidelines and standards?
  • What are the ways in which you measure the progress and success of your clients?
  • What is your experience with crisis intervention and management?
  • Suppose your values or beliefs differ from those of your client. What should you do?
  • Are you able to talk to us about how you manage burnout and self-care in your role as a mental health counselor?

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