Mental health counselors make up the third-largest segment of the workforce that provides behavioral health treatment, with a workforce currently estimated at 267,730 providers that is projected to grow 22% by 2028. The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) defines clinical mental health counselors as providers who diagnose and treat mental illness, address life distress, and facilitate wellness in individuals, families, couples, and groups. Few characteristics beyond standardized education and training requirements are currently known about the national mental health counselor workforce. Creation of a minimum data set (MDS) to track standardized workforce information would inform supply and demand modeling and estimates. This quantitative study aimed to create a comprehensive profile of the mental health counselor workforce.
The Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center fielded an online survey for mental health counselors developed from a literature review and assistance from AMHCA. Survey themes included: demographics, education and training, licensure, area of practice, function/daily responsibilities, and practice setting.