In the state of Florida, there are many different levels and types of mental health professionals. As mentioned in our first ever blog titled,”What Type of Mental Health Professional do I Need?” we lined those levels and divisions out to help you find the person who could most effectively help you. In this particular blog we will focus on the Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, or RMHCI.
An RMHCI is registered with the state to provide mental health services as an unlicensed professional. These individuals must work under a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who is also a Qualified Supervisor with the state. However, prior to getting registered as an intern, you must fulfill certain education requirements. It is required that to get registered an individual must first receive a Master’s degree from a regionally accredited university. A university that is vouched by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, is the best way to assure that your educational institution will meet the requirements for you to become licensed. Some states require that you attend a CACREP school in order to be licensed in the particular states. Others, as is true in Florida, offer you the option to complete certain courses and still be able to apply for licensure. Before you enter a Master’s program, be sure that they offer the courses you need for your particular state. In Florida you can find this information at the Department of Health Website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/
One definite requirement for all states is a school approved internship. This is an intensive period of hands on experience where you learn the ins and outs of becoming a therapist. Internships will be very different depending on the agency where you work. But you MUST see clients to received hours towards graduating. Once again, each state regulates how many hours you must complete during you internship. In Florida, the required minimum is 1,000 hours. Finishing this task can be daunting, however it is a great opportunity to briskly trim the surface of the mental health profession.
After successful completion of a Master’s program, the RMHCI candidate must find a qualified supervisor and apply with the state. He or she must work under this supervisor for a minimum of 2 years and 2,000 hours. Fifteen hundred of those hours must be in direct client contact! This period can be very challenging for the RMHCI in that compensation may not be very high, but work load will. Depending on where you aquire employment will govern how much and when you work, as well as how quickly (or slowly) you complete your hours. The benefit to this two years however is great. One, you are able to learn from experience as well as a supervisor giving you a great deal of support. It is an opportunity for you to make some mistakes and learn from them (well, minus anything that would severely be a detriment to the client). This time is meant to provide protection for the client as well. The client’s well being is the most important thing to consider in counseling. They are better served and safer with someone who has an extensive amount of experience, or with someone who works under a supervisor that is well qualified as a support.
RMHCIs in the state of Florida must also complete a few trainings on specific items such as confidentiality among others. Once these are complete, the intern can then take a state derived test to become licensed. If you pass the test, you will receive your credential as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. This title will open up new opportunities for the RMHCI and will allow you to work individually, and also accept insurance payments (once approved and accepted by insurance agencies).
A great deal of education and work is required for pre-licensed professionals to become licensed. What is important to remember is that its not always just the goal that is important, but rather its the journey that will mold you and teach you how to be a great therapist.
At Affordable Counseling of Brandon registered interns play a huge role. Co-founder and Clinical Director, Clarissa Crystal-Belle hand picks each intern that works for her. She is very instrumental in helping teach and support interns working with her clients. Clarissa makes sure that each client gets high quality services. Registered interns are available at reduced rates, however the effectiveness of counseling is the same as they are supervised by a very compassionate, experienced and knowledgable licensed professional.
For more information on mental health counseling and related topics, check out our website at http://www.affordablecounselingbrandon.com or visit our sister company at http://www.starpointcounselingtampa.com!