What Is Professional Mental Health Counseling?

Assisting individuals, families, and groups with diverse needs through challenges in their life journeys.

Counselors take a developmental perspective and assume that people grow and change throughout their lives. Professional counselors understand principles of human development, psychology, mental health and change theories, and they establish effective helping relationships with people from diverse cultures. Counselors are skilled in the assessment of people and situations, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, and in the application of cognitive, affective, behavioral and systemic strategies to facilitate change.

Help clients create change—setting personal goals or making system-wide changes.

As professional helpers, counselors are respectful and responsive to clients and offer a safe place for people to share their experiences and to explore ways to cope. Counselors are skilled in implementing therapeutic interventions designed to help clients challenged by a range of circumstances including: trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, unanticipated life events, interpersonal discord, social injustice, worksite disruption and career issues.

Professional counselors practice in a variety of settings.

•    Mental Health Clinics
•    Human/Social Service Agencies
•    Educational Settings
•    Hospitals
•    Businesses
•    Private Practice
•    Corrections


Our program prepares you to:

  • Apply appropriate individual, couple, family, group, and systems modalities for initiating, maintaining, and terminating counseling, including the use of crisis intervention, and brief, intermediate, and long-term approaches.
  • Understand individuals and groups served by a variety of institutions and agencies that offer community counseling services and to promote access to community resources.
  • Apply models, methods, and principles of service delivery for clients based on human-development approaches.
  • Apply principles and models of biopsychosocial assessment, case conceptualization, theories of human development and concepts of normalcy and psychopathology leading to diagnoses and appropriate counseling plans, including the principles of diagnosis and the use of current diagnostic tools such as the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
  • Promote effective strategies for client advocacy in public policy and other matters of equity, accessibility, and justice.
  • Participate in community-based practicum and internship opportunities to gain experience in direct practice of counseling under the clinical supervision of site and faculty supervisors.
Professional Associations & Organizations

American Counseling Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
Pastoral Counselors
Employee Assistance
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
Colleges & Employers
National Career Development Association

State Organizations

Oregon Mental Health Counselors
Washington Counseling Association
Oregon Career development association
The American Mental Health Alliance - Oregon (AMHA-OR)

Professional Licenses and Certifications

Mental health professionals become licensed/certified in the states they practice in, according to the rules of each state. Many mental health professionals also become nationally certified. Click on links below. For states not listed here, check state websites for their particular licensure rules.

Information about Licensure in California

OR Board of Licensed Professional Counselors & Therapists
WA Mental Health Counselor
NBCC Information
Study Guides for National Counselor Exam
American Association of State Boards