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Career Story: Mental Health Counselor In A Private Practice

Mental Health Counselor In A Private Practice

Job Title: Counselor

Education: Boise State University - BS in Psychology •• Wheaton College - MA in Clinical Psychology •• Certification as Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Previous Experience: Supervised Child Protection, Juvenile Justice, Mental Health and Adult protection for Rural Health and Welfare office - State of Idaho.

Counselor in adolescent sex offender treatment program

Private Mental Health counseling Practice

Therapist in psychiatric hospital for mentally ill and Chemically dependent patients

Job Tasks: I am currently in a solo counseling practice so I am responsible for scheduling patients, consultations with other providers and physicians, individual, marital, and family therapy sessions. I also provide educational talks on teen issues in the community for local school counselors and clinicians.

I am also responsible for writing accurate notes on each session, developing appropriate written treatment plans and maintaining legal documents and records on each patient. I do my own billing which requires data entry and submission of bills to insurance companies. Many of these require follow up phone calls with insurance companies, since it is their job to find ways to keep their money and sometimes mine, to see that I am paid for appropriate services to our mutual clients.

I also provide some case management services for clients by coordinating care with psychiatrists, primary care providers, teachers, school counselors and treatment facilities. My job requires that I take an additional forty hours of training each year in order to maintain my counseling license and Drug and Alcohol certification.

In doing private practice and being my own office manager, I have a greater amount of administrative duties, which provides variety in my day. I have to collect co-pays and send statements to clients, have had to learn to pay quarterly taxes to the multitude of government entities that demand money, and rely on my accountant to keep me out of jail. The IRS can be very sticky about being paid the right amount at the right times.

Each insurance company requires its own application and contract with each clinician, and they all offer different rates of reimbursement, that has nothing to do with your fees. This is extremely time consuming to complete these applications and the recertifications every 1-3 years, but completely necessary.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts are being my own boss and being able to schedule people when I want to work. The worst part is definitely all the paperwork, since counselors as a group are usually not highly detail oriented. There is also no paid vacation, since no client that hour means no billing and no money.

Job Tips:
1. Work with agencies or facilities for a few years after you complete school, because whatever you think you learned in school is only a fraction of what you need to know.

2. Find mentors and always have colleagues that you can staff cases with.

3. Don't be afraid to mix therapy techniques as they make sense to you. For example, I am a family therapist by training, and I use a lot of cognitive/behavioral techniques within that framework.

Additional Thoughts: You will never get rich as a counselor, but the rewards when that "aha" moment becomes visible in your clients expression is worth a million.

Popular Schools offering Mental Health Counseling Programs

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Argosy University
Alameda, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange, Phoenix, San Diego

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA) (Online), Clinical Psychology (PsyD), Counseling Psychology (EdD), more...
  • Degrees: Master, Doctorate

Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.

  • Programs: M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MA Behavioral Economics, B.A. in Psychology , more...
  • Degrees: Master, Bachelor, Doctorate

Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.

  • Programs: Online Master of Arts in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC), Online Master of Arts in Counseling - Professional School Counseling (PSC)
  • Degrees: Master

Study at Wake Forest University, a university dedicated to educating the whole person since 1834.

  • Programs: Master of Arts in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health
  • Degrees: Master

For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

  • Programs: MA in Professional Counseling - 60 Hour, BS in Psychology, AA in Psychology
  • Degrees: Master, Bachelor, Associate

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

  • Programs: PhD in Psychology
  • Degrees: Doctorate

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

  • Programs: Sports Counseling (Certificate) - Online
  • Degrees: Certificate

One of the world's leading private research institutions, the University of Southern California (USC) was founded in 1880.

  • Programs: Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology
  • Degrees: Master

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: Mental Health Policy and Practice - Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Psychology - BA, General Psychology - PhD of Psychology
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Bachelor
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