An essential component of clinical mental health counseling programs is the internship experience. These field placements allow you to put your classroom learning to the test in a real-world clinical environment. In Illinois, these types of placements are abundant.
In fact, Illinois offers a wide range of learning opportunities for future counselors. You can study in small towns, mid-sized cities, and highly-populated urban areas. Likewise, Illinois offers excellent diversity in terms of where field placements occur, from rural public elementary schools to private urban high schools and everything in between.
The demographics of Illinois are also attractive for prospective counselors. The state has large populations of minorities, including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans.
Of course, the state’s robust higher education system is also attractive. With dozens of two-year, four-year, and graduate schools, you’ll have no problem finding a quality program to get your education.
Below is a list of three clinical mental health counseling programs to consider. This is not a complete list, but simply a sample of the types of programs that are currently available.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs in Illinois
Northeastern Illinois University
Northeastern Illinois University’s main campus is on the north side of Chicago, but with four regional campuses and online learning available, the school has a much wider reach than Chicagoland.
There are a few features that distinguish Northeastern Illinois from other schools. For example, according to U.S. News and World Report, it’s the best university in the state for graduating students with the least debt.
This school is also widely regarded for its campus safety and the diversity on campus – students from more than 100 nations are enrolled. You can enjoy small class sizes, too, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1.
This Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling from Northeastern Illinois University is a 60-credit-hour program that leads to licensure as a licensed professional counselor or a licensed clinical professional counselor in Illinois. This program can be completed in around three years.
Classes are split between foundational and clinical mental health counseling coursework. Foundational courses include:
- Theories of Counseling
- Group Counseling
- Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Disorders
- Social and Cultural Diversity in Counseling
- Career Development
Meanwhile, clinical mental health counseling classes include:
- Case Conceptualization and Treatment Planning
- Advanced Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Trauma and Crisis Counseling
Additionally, this program requires the completion of practicum and internship experiences. These experiences include 700 clock hours, of which 280 hours must be client contact hours.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system. It’s also the largest university in the system, with more than 56,000 students enrolled at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels.
Dozens of majors are offered at the University of Illinois, both on campus and online. If you study on campus, you’ll enjoy a beautiful setting in a small city named as one of the best college towns in the country.
This is a diverse school as well. Year to year, more than 10,000 international students study at the University of Illinois.
The University of Illinois offers a Master of Science program in mental health counseling that takes two years to complete. The program includes 61 required credits in counseling, assessment, and human growth.
Some of the courses required to graduate include:
- Theories of Psychotherapy
- Multicultural Counseling
- Group Counseling
- Adult Learning and Development
- Personality Assessment
Additionally, you must complete courses in intelligence assessment, adolescent development, and vocational psychology. A practicum experience in mental health counseling is required as well.
As a graduate of this program, you’re eligible for licensure as a professional counselor in Illinois. Alternatively, your graduate education prepares you well for continued studies in the University of Illinois’ doctoral program in applied psychology.
Roosevelt University is a small school with just over 4,000 total students. About 1,500 students are in the graduate school, such as those in the master of arts program in clinical mental health counseling.
The school was founded in 1945 and has grown to include five colleges. More than 60 undergraduate majors are offered, in addition to 61 graduate programs and two doctoral programs.
Roosevelt University prides itself on an intimate learning experience. The average class size is 18 students, but the student-to-teacher ratio is just 11:1. This gives you the opportunity to form deep relationships with your professors as well as your classmates.
Roosevelt University’s Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling prepares you to work with clients of all ages and backgrounds. Through 61 credits of coursework, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to effectively provide mental health counseling in various settings, from schools to mental health clinics to private practice.
This program has a field-based curriculum, which means you have traditional classroom learning experiences combined with practicum and internship experiences. By incorporating these real-world applications of knowledge and skill, this program sets you up for professional success.
In addition to 12 credits of practicum and internship, you’ll take courses related to:
- Counseling theory and practice
- Statistics and research methods
- Group dynamics and counseling
- Substance abuse and addictive disorders
- Human appraisal
Upon graduation, you will be ready to sit for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor. You’ll also be prepared to take the National Certified Counselor certification exam.
Work Opportunities in Illinois
As the old saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. But, other life events are certain to occur, one of which is having mental health issues. From common conditions like depression and anxiety to more severe mental health problems like schizophrenia and dissociative disorders, most of us will be in need of mental health care at some point in our lives.
In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five American adults has a mental health issue at some point each year. One in twenty American adults have a serious mental issue each year.
What this means in terms of work opportunities is that you should have an abundance of choices upon graduating. This is particularly true if you graduate with distinction and pass the necessary exams to be a licensed counselor.
In Illinois, in particular, the large population means more people in need of mental health services at any given time than in lesser-populated states.
As a result, finding work as a mental health counselor might be an easier task than in other states. Of course, this field is growing rapidly – at a rate of 22 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – so you might even find that you get multiple job offers.
It’s expected that mental health counseling will see strong job growth across the nation for the next decade. This is good news for you, of course! Whether you want to stay in Illinois or move to another state to find work, your knowledge and expertise can be put to good use.
Your ability to help people learn, grow, and cope with mental health issues puts you in a position of being an in-demand service provider now and in the future.