What does a Mental Health Therapist do?

Learn all about Mental Health Therapist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Mental Health Therapist.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A mental health therapist is a professional who helps people with mental illness manage their condition and improve their overall well-being. Mental health therapists may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community mental health centers. They may provide individual, group, or family therapy.

Mental Health Therapist job duties include:

  • Diagnose mental health disorders
  • Prescribe and administer medication
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Conduct individual and group therapy sessions
  • Keep detailed records of patient progress
  • Work with patients to identify goals and objectives
  • Monitor patients for signs of relapse
  • Consult with other mental health professionals as needed
  • Refer patients to other services as needed
  • Maintain confidentiality

Mental Health Therapist Job Requirements

Mental health therapists typically have at least a master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field. Many states also require therapists to be licensed. Some therapists may also choose to pursue additional certification in a specialty area, such as child and adolescent mental health, substance abuse, or geriatric mental health. In addition to formal education and training, therapists must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to build trust with patients.

Mental Health Therapist Skills

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Observing
  • Interpreting
  • Counseling
  • Questioning
  • Probing
  • Reflecting
  • Summarizing
  • Challenging
  • Normalizing

Related: Top Mental Health Therapist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Mental Health Therapist

Mental health therapists provide vital services to individuals and families struggling with mental illness. As a mental health therapist, you will help your clients develop coping skills, manage their symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life. If you are interested in becoming a mental health therapist, here are a few things you need to know.

First, you will need to earn a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. During your graduate studies, you will take courses in psychopathology, human development, and psychotherapy. You will also complete a clinical internship where you will gain hands-on experience working with clients.

After earning your degree, you will need to obtain licensure in order to practice therapy. Each state has different requirements for licensure, but most states require passing an exam and completing a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience.

Once you are licensed, you can begin working as a mental health therapist. You may work in a private practice, community mental health center, hospital, or other healthcare setting. You will work with clients individually and sometimes in group settings to help them overcome their mental illness and improve their overall well-being.

Related: Mental Health Therapist Resume Example

Related: Mental Health Therapist Interview Questions (With Example Answers)