If you want to become a licensed mental health counsellor, it is important for you to start off with the right background. This includes taking of myriad of classes in high school to make sure that you have the basic understanding and skill necessary to pursue this career. Classes in biology, English, sociology, psychology, speech, literature, social studies and computer skills will really help in this regard. Some high schools also offer classes for people with interest in medicine or health. These classes, if available, will greatly enhance your background.
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At a minimum, all mental health counsellors need to have a bachelor's degree, preferably in psychology, social work, counselling, education or sociology. In many cases, prospective mental health counsellors will need a master's or a doctorate degree in one of those fields, so grad school may be necessary. It is important to also demonstrate a prolonged interest in mental health counselling. Joining undergraduate student associations can help with this, as can working at a crisis hotline.
Many mental health counsellors also decide to become certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors, although this certification is voluntary and not required for some forms of mental health work. Obtaining this certification requires completing an internship, as well providing the board with a sample, on tape, of some of your clinical work. The final stage for certification is a written examination that will cover many of the theoretical and practical aspects of being a mental health counsellor.