Apply as a Transfer/Demotion applicant

$34.80-$43.99 hourly / $6,032.00-$7,625.00 monthly / $72,384.00-$91,499.20 yearly

Apply as a Transfer/Demotion applicant

$39.05-$49.39 hourly / $6,769.00-$8,561.00 monthly / $81,224.00-$102,731.20 yearly


Under direction, provides for the care, welfare, and rehabilitation of clients on an assigned shift; and does other work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Mental Health Counselor I is the trainee class in the series. Incumbents initially work under close supervision, learn the procedures of caring for and counseling clients in a specialized treatment program, and work various shift assignments. Incumbents are expected to promote to the next level of Mental Health Counselor II after gaining experience and demonstrating the required level of proficiency.

Mental Health Counselor II, the full journey level, is expected to carry out a wide range of responsible work assignments on a shift with a minimum of direction. This class is distinguished from Senior Mental Health Counselor in that the latter is the supervisor with responsibility for operations on an assigned shift, including scheduling staff and program activities.

Typical Tasks

Tasks are performed by both levels (I as trainee and II as journey): Plan, organize, and lead in a structured program of counseling, work, study, rehabilitation, recreation and social activities for a group of emotionally disturbed clients, including activities such as individual, group and family counseling and discussions; oversees daily living routines and development of life skills, including meals, arts and crafts, sports, personal hygiene, housekeeping chores, and clothing issue; assist youth to gain insight into themselves and their relationships to family, peers and adults; observe and document in clinical records on youth treatment goals, behavior, attitude, appearance, interests and skills; maintain necessary log and reports, including progress notes, including possible effects of medication on behavior; assists clients in taking prescribed medication; assist clinicians with development of treatment plan; may assist in clinical assessment; leads off-site therapeutic activities; assists with intake; explain the purposes and procedures of the program and facility; participates in four-month treatment plan review meetings; participate in multi-disciplinary clinical meetings with residents and families; maintain good discipline and instruct clients in acceptable behavior; take proper action for non-cooperating youth; remain alert for potential problems and take measures to reduce tensions and avoid possible violence; contact parents, probation officers, police and others as required; observe and facilitate family and significant other visiting; attend and participates in staff, program and planning meetings; participate and assist in group and individual in-service training programs; transports groups on therapeutic outing activities; transports individuals to hospitals, clinics and community facilities; may provide back-up for other classifications as required; may supervise volunteers and student interns.

Employment Standards

Knowledge of:

Mental Health Counselor I

Some knowledge of:

  • Basic factors that influence human behavior.
  • Basic interviewing principles and techniques.
  • Health, hygiene and mental health.
  • Basic care and supervision required in a treatment program.
  • Basic first aid.

Mental Health Counselor II

Working knowledge of the above, plus working knowledge of:

  • Principles and methods of behavior management.
  • Basic counseling techniques for individuals, groups and families.
  • Safety requirements necessitated by program environment and location.

Ability to:

Abilities required of I as trainee and II as journey

  • Learn and apply the practices and procedures used in structured treatment milieu, including supervision and rehabilitation of clients.
  • Plan, organize and direct a group of youths in psycho-educational and therapeutic groups.
  • Comprehend and follow oral and written instructions.
  • Understand and respond constructively to youth behavior problems and gain their cooperation in meeting clinical goals.
  • Communicate effectively orally.
  • Work without close supervision.
  • Plan, organize and direct a group of clients in therapeutic work, meal, recreation and social activities.
  • Learn and apply crisis intervention and other skills, which include the ability to anticipate, prevent and de-escalate acts of violence to per sons and property.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with other, including clients, families, staff, and representatives of other agencies.
  • Write clear and concise log entries and reports, including progress notes.
  • Conduct individual, group and family counseling with adolescents with behavioral or emotional problems.
  • Recognize and respond effectively to emergency situations.
  • Obtain a First Aid and CPR Certificate issued by the American Red Cross.
  • Stand and walk for extended periods of time up to 12 hours.
  • Lift items weighing up to 35 pounds from floor level and 50 pounds from 12 inches above floor level, such as assisting in lifting a minor detainee, and carry items weighing up to 50 pounds.

Education and Experience: Any combination of education and experience which would provide the required knowledges and abilities is qualifying, unless otherwise specified. A typical way to obtain these knowledges and abilities would be:

Mental Health Counselor I: Fifteen (15) semester units of college coursework in psychology, sociology, or other behavioral science, or experience involving the supervision, care or leadership of adolescents, or one year of non-professional treatment experience in a mental health program or facility.

Mental Health Counselor II: One year of experience performing duties comparable to a Mental Health Counselor I in Santa Cruz County.

Special Requirements/Conditions: Selective certification, based on male or female gender to meet staffing needs and maintain a gender balance on each shift, may be requested for permanent regular (non-extra help hires) appointments in these classifications.

License/Certificate Requirements: For both levels: Possession of a valid California class C driver license.

Special Working Conditions: Exposure to the possibility of bodily injury; infections which may cause chronic disease or death; combative minor detainees; offensive odors; high noise levels; insect bites; dust and pollens.

Background Investigation: Fingerprinting is required.


Bargaining Unit: 41
EEOC Job Category: 04
Occupational Grouping: 69
Worker's Comp Code: 0285
Analyst: PT/CE

CLASS: SL3; EST: 2/1/1997; REV: 6/1/2002;
CLASS: SL5; EST: 2/1/1997; REV: 6/1/2002;