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How to Become a Mental Health Professional with a Holistic Perspective

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Mental health professionals play a crucial role in helping individuals overcome challenges and lead fulfilling lives. However, many traditional approaches to mental health focus solely on the mind, neglecting the body and spirit. If you're interested in becoming a mental health professional with a holistic perspective, continue reading.

What is Counseling Psychology?

Counseling psychology assists people in improving their well-being, resolves conflicts, and aids to increase their overall quality of life. Counseling psychology is performed by using culturally-informed and sensitive practices and focuses on normative life-span development, with emphasis on prevention and education. It addresses individuals as well as the environments in which they function. 

Counseling psychology explores how others function and addresses various mental and physical challenges, such as PTSD, anxiety, alcoholism, trauma, addiction and depression.

What Skills Are Necessary to Becoming a Mental Health Counselor?

Mental health counselors play a vital role in helping individuals overcome mental health challenges and achieve whole-person wellness. They take an integrated approach to healing the mind, exploring both spiritual and psychological factors to help patients break free from destructive behaviors and enjoy an improved mental state. Below are some of the skills necessary to become a mental health counselor.


One of the most important skills for a mental health counselor is active listening. This involves paying attention to what the patient is saying and responding in a non-judgmental and empathetic way. Active listening helps patients feel heard and understood, which is crucial for building trust and rapport.

Empathy is another crucial skill for mental health counselors. It involves being able to put yourself in the patient's shoes and understand their experiences and emotions. Empathy helps counselors develop a deeper understanding of their patients and provide more effective support.

Mental health counselors work with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. As such, it's essential to have cultural competence, which involves being able to understand and respect different cultural values and beliefs. Cultural competence helps counselors provide more effective support to patients from diverse backgrounds.

Critical thinking involves the ability to analyze information and make informed decisions. Mental health counselors must use critical thinking to evaluate their clients' mental health status, identify underlying issues, and develop appropriate treatment plans.

Mental health counselors must have excellent communication skills to effectively communicate with their clients, other healthcare providers, and families. They must be able to convey complex information in an understandable manner and ensure that everyone involved in a client's care is on the same page.

Mental health counselors must have strong interpersonal skills to build positive relationships with their clients, families, and other healthcare providers. They must be able to collaborate effectively with others to provide the best possible care.

Mental health counselors must be familiar with ethical and legal considerations, including knowledge of confidentiality and privacy laws, informed consent, professional boundaries and more. 

Mental health counselors must maintain self-awareness and practice self-care to ensure they can provide the best possible care to their clients. This includes managing their own emotions, recognizing their limitations, seeking supervision and support when needed, and taking care of their own mental health needs. 

Explore: Becoming A Mental Health Professional with a Holistic Approach unnamed (8)

Becoming a licensed mental health counselor requires a lot of work and dedication. Below are the steps needed to become a mental health professional.

Firstly, obtain your bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology. A bachelor’s degree provides a foundation of knowledge in human behavior and prepares you for more advanced studies in mental health counseling.

Next, earn your master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field. A master’s degree program provides in-depth knowledge and training in counseling theories, techniques and ethics. This degree is required for licensure as a mental health counselor. 

If you are interested in pursuing a career with a whole-person, holistic perspective, consider earning your degree from a school that focuses on the overall wellbeing of clients, such as Bastyr University.

We offer a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with a focus on holistic mental health. This program provides students with the intrapersonal skills necessary to pursue counseling in a holistic manner, with an emphasis on whole-person care. 

While completing your education, you must also complete supervised clinical experience. This is a crucial step in developing your counseling skills and preparing you for a career as a mental health counselor. 

At Bastyr, we offer a hands-on experience at our own clinic, where students can put their skills to the test in a real-world, supervised setting. Students are guided by experienced mental health professionals and gain excellent practice in basic counseling and assessment skills, providing a wonderful foundation for their career.

Finally, the last step in becoming a licensed mental health counselor is to pass licensing exams. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but generally involve passing a national exam and completing a certain number of supervised hours of clinical experience.

Create a Career in Mental Health at Bastyr

Becoming a mental health professional requires a lot of work, dedication and time. However, it is an extremely rewarding profession. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like the BS in Health Psychology degree at Bastyr, earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling, like our MA in Counseling Psychology, completing supervised clinical experience, and passing licensing exams are all crucial steps in preparing for a career in mental health counseling. 

If you are passionate about helping others and committed to making a difference in the mental health field, becoming a mental health professional focused on holistic and whole-person wellbeing may be the perfect fit for you.

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Written by Bastyr

Bastyr University's academic and research programs have received international recognition for pioneering work in science-based natural medicine. We offer a learning environment that fosters serious inquiry, professional dedication and lifelong relationships. Your career begins here, where comprehensive training makes the difference.