3 Tips For Pursuing A Career In Mental Health

Updated on July 11, 2021

The mental health industry is a vast field with a plethora of career options and opportunities. It’s filled with professionals who have a strong desire to make a positive impact on someone else’s life and helping those who are struggling.  

Also, experts and providers in this landscape dedicate much of their time understanding complex disorders, prevalent societal concerns, and other similar issues. This is necessary for them to be able to properly address their patients through psychotherapy, counseling, seminars, and the like. 

Tips For Mental Health Aspirants 

With the significance of mental health finally being acknowledged by society, there’s now a growing demand for professionals to aid clients and institutions. This is good news, especially for aspirants who dream of becoming a mental health provider.  

At the same time, this encourages more students to take a degree in Psychology and be part of the thriving group of mental health professionals. Whether you like to become a therapist or a psychiatrist, below are tips for pursuing a career in mental health. 

  1. Maintain Boundaries Between Work And Life 

As a mental health provider, you’ll be dealing with clients who have mild to complex behavioral, emotional, and mental problems. If you become a psychotherapist, you’ll be meeting these clients a few times a week to talk about their problem, progress, and treatment plan.  

While it can be fulfilling to witness how your clients are recovering, your job can potentially take a toll on your own mental health. This will likely happen if you overlook the importance of self-care and keeping your own mental health in check.  

Considering this, create margins between your personal and professional life. Before a client signs a contract with you, talk to them about these boundaries and set clear expectations with them. Also, make sure to incorporate self-care activities into your routine to improve your mental health

All these can help you prevent burnout and keep your passion alive, encouraging you to give your best in every counseling session. 

  1. Take Your Internship Seriously 

Mental health providers have to hone an array of necessary skills to help different kinds of clients and patients alike. Gladly, these skills can be learned and develop during your years at university and your internship training.  

During college internships, you’ll be exposed to various mental health settings. You’ll meet, rub elbows, and assist various reputable professionals in your locality. Getting to work with them for a brief period helps you debunk misconceptions about the field. At the same time, they may provide you insights on how to approach common therapy issues and maintain professionalism in the counseling relationship, and minimize the risk for transference.

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Transference is an issue in therapy where the client feels invested in their therapists because of them seeing each other frequently. This can also result from the therapist’s warmth and non-judgmental nature, which can be misinterpreted as romantic or sexual interest by the client. 

If you’re still an undergraduate, make sure to choose an internship program where you’ll be exposed in a lot of mental health facilities—clinics, hospitals, research centers, educational institutions, and more. This collective professional experience can help you refine the necessary skills to be successful in this arena.  

Also, during internships, you can connect academic theories to real-life settings to make sense of abstract concepts in therapy and build your network of contact. The latter will surely come in handy once you graduate and look for a worthwhile job. 

Moreover, your skillset and extensive knowledge in the field will give you an edge over other fresh graduates. In today’s competitive job market, this can boost your confidence and help you prepare for a fulfilling career. 

  1. Identify Your Niche 

The mental health field now offers a ton of career choices for fresh graduates. While it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all these options, there are ways to determine your most suitable niche. 

For instance, if you have alumni friends who are now psychologists, you can approach and ask them questions regarding their typical workday, their usual struggles during counseling, and more. They might be able to give you beneficial insights and help you match your interests and current skills to a certain role. 

Moreover, you can take personality tests and career quizzes from reputable websites. Commonly, after the test, the system can suggest a list of ideal jobs suited for you. Alternatively, you can participate in volunteer programs, short-term training opportunities, and the like. Immerse yourself in these learning avenues and activities to help you discover where you’re most inclined to. This also helps you narrow down your options prior to enrollment.  

Additionally, look into the options offered by your graduate school prospects. Have an open mind and do your research with the possible prospects for your chosen interests or specialty.  

Final Thoughts 

Pursuing a career in mental health can be quite demanding. However, seeing how your work has positively influenced the lives of others makes the job worthwhile. But to be successful in this field, it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries and practice self-care. To be an efficient therapist, you must be in the right headspace as well.