Exploring Careers in Behavioral Health: Roles and Responsibilities

The healthcare industry as a whole contributes to the well-being of society, but careers in behavioral health allow you to see the impact on the lives of individuals from a new perspective. 

Behavioral health specialists are essential to the elderly, those with developmental disabilities, and others who require special assistance. These professionals provide support, counsel, and assistance in the community, plus they advocate for programs that allow better access for everyone. 

Let’s review the definition of behavioral health and why you should choose this career path. We’ll also list a few different behavioral health job opportunities and explain the general steps you need to take to get started. 

An Overview of Behavioral Health Careers

Behavioral health professionals help people address social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. These professionals often work closely with individuals who require traditional counseling as well as patients who benefit most from multiple types of therapy. The goal is always the same: help every person replace negative actions with positive behaviors that contribute to a better reality. 

When it comes to interdisciplinary treatments, behavioral health specialists provide guidance through counseling and also ensure that patients are connected to the right resources.

Additionally, jobs in this field vary based on the specialty. This means there are behavioral health careers for professionals with all types of passions, from technology to hands-on activities. 

Career Paths in Behavioral Health

Patients and individuals require different types of support in modern society. This translates to a huge number of jobs and careers in behavioral health. The best part is that these require different skills and interests, so you’re sure to find one that leverages your strengths and abilities.

Below, we’ve divided common behavioral health careers into different categories. 

1. Therapists and Counselors

Therapists and counselors are responsible for evaluating patients through interviews, observations, and examinations. As part of their jobs, counselors and similar professionals help tailor improvement plans and provide therapeutic treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and more.

Some careers that fall in this category include:

  • Psychologist
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Mental health counselor
  • Child and adolescent psychiatrist
  • School counselor
  • Behavioral therapist
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Health psychologist


As a therapist or counselor, your responsibilities include diagnosing and assessing patients, creating treatment plans, assisting through hands-on therapy, monitoring the progress of patients, and building awareness about these issues through advocacy. 

Requirements and Qualifications

The requirements and qualifications required to become a behavioral health expert vary based on the exact career. 

In Washington, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers must meet state licensing requirements, which include obtaining a relevant degree, completing supervised experience, and passing a state exam.

Growth Opportunities and Outlook

Counselors and therapists are in high demand across the US, especially in companies and institutions that are starting to provide mental health support for their employees. 

Therapists and similar professionals can also work in a variety of settings including non-profits, government entities, and private companies. The best part is that all of these offer the potential to move into higher administrative or specialized roles. 

2. Support Staff and Case Managers

Support staff and case managers play a crucial role because they support therapists, counselors, and other specialists during the delivery of mental health services. Depending on their exact roles, support team members can handle patient care, coordination of treatments, necessary administrative tasks, and much more. Support staff roles include:

  • Psychiatric nurse
  • Mental health coordinator
  • Clinical social worker
  • Case manager
  • Community support specialist


Support staff and managers are in charge of coordinating individual cases and ensuring that the various aspects of a patient’s care are properly addressed.

In some cases, the responsibility of managers and similar staff covers areas outside of the patient’s behavioral health. As a matter of fact, it’s common for these professionals to help with housing, employment, the acquisition of social services, patient logistics, and much more. 

Requirements and Qualifications

The requirements for support staff and case manager jobs are less stringent than counselor and therapist roles. Each career path has specific qualifications, but in most cases they consist of a bachelor’s degree, certifications, and on-the-job training. 

Growth Opportunities and Outlook

Although support jobs are not directly on the front line, these are essential for the behavioral health space to successfully operate and grow. 

In this sense, the role of support staff and managers is no different to administrators in a hospital, which translates to job stability and above-average employment opportunities. 

3. Entry-Level Positions

Entry-level behavioral health jobs are not only necessary, but they are often the careers that have the highest demand. 

The reason for this is that entry-level professionals assist with daily activities, help monitor patient behavior, and provide hands-on assistance to therapists and counselors. These professionals include:

  • Behavioral health technician
  • Psychiatric aide
  • Case manager assistant
  • Rehabilitation assistant
  • Residential counselor


The essential functions of technicians in behavioral health include helping patients with hygiene, monitoring and reporting patient behavior, and intervening when there’s a situation that requires verbal or physical de-escalation. 

Requirements and Qualifications

The qualifications and requirements necessary to become an entry-level behavioral health specialist may include a high school diploma, as well as a certification and associate’s degree. In addition to receiving on-the-job training, you may also have the opportunity to train in more specialized roles. 

Growth Opportunities and Outlook

Entry-level behavioral health experts often have education opportunities as part of their benefits. Depending on your goals and passions, it’s possible to pursue further education and attain a counselor role or an even higher position. 

Why Choose a Career in Behavioral Health?

dbt therapy

Behavioral health is the ideal career if you love helping others, want to have a positive impact on your surroundings, and like interacting with people on a daily basis. 

Here are a few more reasons why behavioral health is a great career choice. 

Job Stability and Demand

Job stability and demand for behavioral health specialists increase every year. It’s estimated that 47% of Americans like areas where mental health workforces are at a deficit. 

And, while the COVID pandemic may have ended, its effects are far from over. Anxiety and depression have skyrocketed by 25% since the pandemic, highlighting the need for more assistance focused on the elderly and others in need. 

This is no celebratory cause, but it does signal that behavioral health services are more sought after than ever before. 

Impact and Fulfillment

There is no doubt that behavioral health careers have highs and lows, but they are very rewarding to the professionals who want to affect change. Counselors, psychologists, and other professionals help individuals in need on a daily basis, helping them overcome challenges and improve their lives in the short and long run. 

As behavioral health professionals, you learn as much about yourself as the people you help. Not only do you see the impact of your actions up close, but you also learn how to manage your emotions and develop good instincts in stressful situations. 

Professional Development Opportunities

Some behavioral health services are geared towards a broader group of patients, while others focus on more specialized areas. This presents a huge number of opportunities from a professional development perspective. 

As a counselor or similar professional, you can work across a range of organizations, create your own company, and get involved in research that leads to advancements in the field. 

Looking to Build a Career in Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health careers are not only stable, but they are also fulfilling. The impact on society can be felt through every action, so careers like psychology, psychiatric nursery, and rehabilitation assistance reward you with a feeling of accomplishment. 

At Sunrise Services, we focus on helping and serving those in need of behavioral health and similar assistance. 

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others and join a team of passionate individuals looking to solve community challenges, Join Sunrise Services Today