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How to Be a Behavioral Health Professional

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A Behavioral Health Professional (BHP), sometimes also known as a Therapeutic Mentor, faces challenging, yet rewarding work with children and adults in need. As a BHP or Therapeutic Mentor, you would typically provide in-home behavior management and monitoring, informal counseling and crisis stabilization services. Clients who receive BHP services typically have a mental health diagnosis, developmental disability or behavioral issues placing them “at risk.” Committed, effective work from a BHP can make a difference in the lives of these clients.

Obtain your BHP certification. Check with your state education department or university system to ascertain training opportunities for the BHP program. Inquire about other eligibility qualifications. For instance, the Behavioral Health Sciences Institute recommends holding a bachelor’s degree in a related field (psychology or social work) and certification in CPR and First Aid.

Seek employment or a consultant position with a social services agency with BHP openings. Review the stipulations of employment or consultancy, work conditions, pay rate, schedule and other relevant details. Accept a position most suitable for your particular situation and interests.

Maintain a professional relationship with your clients at all times. While children and families in need often tug at your “heart strings,” you must remember to keep a professional distance between them and yourself. Don’t provide your personal information or contact details to your clients. You can be kind and effective, but not become personally attached.

Exercise patience and flexibility with your clients. Remember that they require your services because of their special needs and at-risk behaviors. As Providence Service Corporation reminds its professionals, treat clients with respect and dignity, yet be firm in carrying out their respective treatment plans. Maintain a degree of flexibility, rather than rigidity, within the plan, to allow for “off” days. Reward achievement of goals according to established agency guidelines.

Keep consistent and concise records for personal and professional purposes. Most agencies require daily recordkeeping covering details about which clients you visited, what portion of the treatment plans you implemented, progress reports, recommendations for modifications to plans and expenses related to your work (such as mileage or supplies).


K'Lee Banks started writing professionally in 1984. She has written content for Writer Access, WiseGEEK, Travel New England and numerous private clients. Banks has a background in education and social services. She is also an entrepreneur who makes customized quilts and crafts. Banks has a Master of Education from American InterContinental University and is pursuing a doctorate in education from Northcentral University.