Mental Health Classes and Courses Overview
Students taking mental health classes generally explore mental health disorders and ethics, while building counseling and research skills. These courses are normally completed as part of a full graduate degree program.
Mental health courses are part of master's and doctorate programs in mental health, behavioral health, counseling and psychology. While master's programs are suitable for those desiring to work as a mental health counselor, a doctoral program is suitable for aspiring counseling psychologists.
Students learn about mental health disorders, counseling theories, human development substance abuse counseling and family counseling. Doctoral programs have a significant focus on research, so students in these programs study statistical methods, experiment design and research methods in preparation for their dissertation. Master's programs normally include multiple supervised field experiences during the last few semesters of the program. In addition to including practica, doctoral programs usually include an additional internship that lasts a year and takes place at the very end of the program.
Licensure is required for both mental health counselors and counseling psychologists, with common requirements including significant supervised work experience after graduation, the completion of an appropriate degree program and the successful completion of licensure exams.
Overview of Classes
Some mental health classes taken in a master's or doctoral program are shown and described below.
Mental Health Disorders Courses
The study of mental health disorders, known as epidemiology, is at the core of most mental health master's and doctorate programs. Students learn about various mental health disorders and their effects on the afflicted and their families. Courses in epidemiology usually start at the beginning of a mental health program and continue throughout its duration.
Mental health counseling courses teach students techniques to identify patients' mental disorders. They address the best ways to talk to patients and to take notes on their responses. Mental health counseling is usually introduced in a student's first semester and expounded upon later in a mental health degree program.
A mental health research course introduces students to various research methods and discusses ways to utilize findings in mental health treatment. Some schools include statistical elements in their mental health research courses so that students can spot trends and triggers for disorders more easily.
A course in mental health ethics teaches future counselors to convey trust, which is an important component of mental health treatment. Students learn to use ethics in treating patients and in building a psychological practice. In most cases, particular attention is paid to the ethical treatment of people of different cultures and lifestyles. A mental ethics course is often one of the first courses taken in a mental health program.
A mental health internship, which often spans from 2-3 semesters in length, allows students to get hands-on counseling experience by working with patients in psychological settings. Internship sites can range from university counseling services and children's homes to hospitals and hospices, depending on a student's area of specialization. As part of a mental health internship, students may be required to meet and share their experiences, thus learning from each other. Internships in mental health are generally completed toward the end of master's and doctorate programs.
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