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Why do MA's in Mental Health Counseling even exist? Is it just a scam to make people think they're becoming psychologists?


TrishaK1997
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I saw someone from my high school is going to pursue an MA in Mental Health Counseling next fall. Given that the average salary for a mental health counselor is $40k, this career seems like a huge, unnecessary scam to me. What are mental health counselors even trained to do? At least counseling psychology seems to lead to an actual useful and important career. He claims that he's ultimately going to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology, so why not just work in a research lab or get an MA in psych? The school he's going to doesn't even have any active research, so I don't think he'll be able to get involved with a lab and get decent research experience. Seriously, why does this career even exist?

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Licensed mental health counselors and LCSWs are both an important part of the mental health field. The majority of clinical practice is performed by MA level clinicians. Psychologists tend to focus more on assessments and the like. If this friend of yours wants to pursue a PhD down the line, he may consider choosing a different program or seek outside research opportunities. It's not a scam. It's just a different career in the same field. This may be regional, but if you look up affordable mental health providers, most providers will end up being MA level clinicians. 

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52 minutes ago, Hk328 said:

Licensed mental health counselors and LCSWs are both an important part of the mental health field. The majority of clinical practice is performed by MA level clinicians. Psychologists tend to focus more on assessments and the like. If this friend of yours wants to pursue a PhD down the line, he may consider choosing a different program or seek outside research opportunities. It's not a scam. It's just a different career in the same field. This may be regional, but if you look up affordable mental health providers, most providers will end up being MA level clinicians. 

Agreed (with Hk328), I work for a mental health agency and all of our clinicians are masters level.  If everyone had to have a doctorate to provide therapy,  there would be even poorer access to mental health care than there currently is. Sadly it's true that they do not get paid much, but they do the work because they are passionate and believe that they can effect positive change through there careers. It's not a scam , simply  a different career that focuses on direct clinical practice rather than research or teaching. 

Edited by liznlex
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On 4/16/2018 at 4:50 PM, TeacherTurningSocialWorker said:

LMHCs have a difficult time getting hired for insurance purposes at clinical settings, from what I’ve heard from actual PhDs in clinical psych. LCSWs are more desirable, therefore it is a safer route to go than MHC

This is not necessarily true - it depends on your state. I'm going to assume based on your schools in your signature that you're in New York, one state where it is absolutely true that LMHCs are a terrible choice, and LCSWs have all the power.

California, however, gives all the power to the MFTs and LMHC/LPC wasn't even a license choice until 2009!

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