Mental health counselors work with their clients to set goals and develop approaches to address emotional problems, strengthen coping and communication skills, improve self-esteem, promote behavioral changes, and strive to improve mental well-being. The purpose of counseling is to facilitate positive change. To do so, the counselor must first identify the problems and then develop a series of steps to help the client move forward. This is the treatment plan and includes measurable goals based on a hierarchical order, from the simplest to the most complex.
Objectives are the specific actions that must be taken to meet the goals. Mental health counselors can help treat mental health conditions and other sources of distress, such as relationship problems or grief. They do this by providing people with a space to explore their feelings and teaching them beneficial skills and coping strategies. A professional and trained mental health counselor, also known as a therapist, is needed to guide you along that journey.
To become a licensed mental health counselor, you must earn a master's degree that meets national standards. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses a category called Counselors, All Others to collect statistics on mental health professionals employed by individual and family service organizations, state and local governments (including elementary and secondary schools), and the offices of others health professionals. Psychological or personal mental health counseling provides you with an opportunity to talk about social, emotional, or behavioral problems that cause you concern or interfere with your daily activities. As in clinical psychology, there are several areas in which a person can specialize, such as substance abuse, child and adolescent mental health, and marriage and family therapy.
More and more people are expected to seek mental health and addiction counseling in the coming years, increasing demand for workers. Employment growth for mental health counselors in this sector is projected to be 25 percent through 2029, a rate substantially higher than the average compared to all other jobs. Mental health counseling isn't just for people who have mental health problems, but also for anyone who has mental health concerns at any given time. Untreated mental health conditions can affect not only the mind but also the body and interfere with relationships and work.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Therefore, psychiatrists can assess the influence of any physical health condition on mental health and prescribe medications if needed. People interested in a career in mental health counseling must have excellent listening skills and be able to evaluate and organize the information they receive. The training for the master's degree in social work (MSW) is similar to that provided by other mental health counselors.
A mental health counselor can refer you to a psychiatrist to treat the biological basis of a mental health condition. People may be able to access mental health counseling through health insurance, government plans, or low-cost programs.