Man having a mental health conseling

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The world can be a stressful place, and people may not always be able to handle what happens. When that occurs, being able to talk to someone is beneficial. That’s where a mental health counselor comes into the picture.

For many, when they think of going to therapy, they envision a person laying on a couch and talking to a person with a mustache and goatee who is quickly writing down every word a person says. This isn’t necessarily how the process currently takes place.

What Does A Mental Health Counselor Do?

Your health depends on both your physical and mental well-being. Taking care of your mental health is an integral part of how you feel. The stigmas that are often associated with mental health issues are slowly fading, and more people are looking for ways to make their mind as healthy as their body. For this, they often turn to a mental health counselor.

Mental health counselors can offer guidance to couples, individuals, families, and groups that are dealing with problems or issues that impact their mental health. These can be things such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders, PTSD, ADHD, or addiction, among others.

Diagnosing Mental Illness

When it comes to physical ailments, diagnosing may take some tests and time, but it’s possible to figure out what is ailing a person. Once the doctor knows what to treat, they will find a way to correct the issue. With mental illnesses, there are tests that have to be run, but the results may not come back conclusive and may take years to determine. However, like physical illness, once a professional knows what they are dealing with for mental illness, they can find a way to treat it.

Mental health professionals often rely on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to help them determine what ails a patient. This book lists the symptoms, feelings, behaviors, and other criteria that must be met for a professional to make an official diagnosis. After a determination has been made, then a treatment program can be put into place, and this might include counseling.

Different Types Of Counseling

There are many differenttypes of counseling that a mental health counselor might offer. They may specialize in one or many. Below are a few of the different types of counseling offered by mental health professionals.

Addiction Counseling

If you or a loved one has an issue with addiction, a counselor may be able to help with this problem. Since there is often an underlying issue that pushes a person to seek solace in various drugs or behaviors, the role of the counselor is to discover that root problem and give the patient ways to cope. These may include behavioral changes. This treatment can be done in an individual or group setting, and sometimes both.

The ultimate goal of addiction counseling is to help people rebuild their self-esteem and re-establish personal connections. In time, this could lead to a full recovery and the ability for the patient to hold down a job and have healthy relationships with their friends and family.

Family And Marriage Counseling

People are complicated creatures with challenging relationships. When it comes to family and marriage counseling, a counselor will help families recover and deal with a multitude of stressful situations, including abuse, infidelity, grief, and other traumas.

Individual Counseling

Many individuals suffer from an array of mental health issues, and working with a professional is the best way to find a treatment program that will work. Many counselors offer individual sessions where a person can come in and talk about an array of topics. The professional will also work with them to correct any behaviors, thoughts, or emotions.

How Does Mental Health Counseling Work?

If you decide to take on mental health counseling, you will be involved in a formal, purposeful partnership with a mental health professional. Oftentimes, this is referred to as clinical mental health counseling. Formal titles don’t mean that a mental health counselor takes a cold and distant approach to your problems. The term “clinical” refers to the fact that the practice is based on sound research and techniques that have proven to be effective.

How long the process takes depends on many factors, including how long you decide you want to attend and your mental health issues. In some cases, you may be offered these services through your place of employment, and there may be a limited number of sessions you can attend for free. If you have insurance, they may pay for part or all of your sessions.

How often you attend is also determined by your needs and issues and what the mental health counselor thinks is best. This can range from a few times a week to weekly to every other week to once a month or more.

How Do They Approach The Problem?

How a counselor approaches your mental health issue will depend on the type of training they have received. The counselor’s training can include psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. They may also decide to take a holistic, integrative approach to your issues.

Each approach has a particular focus and may look at a person’s history, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions or a combination of all of these. The individual approaches also have specific theoretical approaches that are used to guide a person to change. This can be a change in thoughts or behaviors, and the goal is to reduce mental health issues and help you feel better.

No matter which approach the mental health counselor decides to take, and they may decide to take on more than one, there are some commonalities you can expect to see. These include the counselor encouraging you to talk about your emotions and experiences and developing a therapeutic process to help you heal.

In addition to using these techniques, a mental health counselor might also work in conjunction with a psychiatrist or your family doctor to prescribe medications. These are another tool to help with mental health issues and reduce or make symptoms tolerable.

The Benefits Of Mental Health Counseling

There are many benefits to mental health counseling, including the fact that it can save and/or change lives. At one point in time, people who sought out counseling for mental health issues were stigmatized and looked at as crazy or weak. It is now accepted that people who look for a mental health counselor are incredibly brave and strong.

It takes a lot to admit that a person has a problem. However, this is the first step in being able to overcome the issue and become healthy. Some of the other benefits that come with mental health counseling include

  • Wellness
  • Ability to prevent future mental health issues
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Reduced stress
  • Personal empowerment
  • Personal insight
  • Life acceptance
  • Life skills
  • Hope

Mental Health Counseling Is Important

There are millions of people worldwide who suffer from some type of mental illness. Taking the time to work with a mental health counselor can ensure that you have the skills and abilities to overcome or deal with a problem and won’t miss out on work or life.

Dealing with depression or anxiety or any other mental disorder can be tough, but talking to a professional and learning different behaviors or thought patterns can have far-reaching consequences and improve your quality of life.

Beyond The Obvious

A man in a mental health counseling session

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Some other ways that counseling is beneficial includes giving you someone to help you stay accountable for your life goals. Whether you want to lose weight or kick an addiction or deal with anxiety to speak in public, a counselor can help you, and they will keep you on track.

Talking to a professional can also help you find a purpose. The world can seem like a huge place, and with so many people, it doesn’t take much to feel lost. This can lead to depression. However, working with a professional, you can find something to strive for that gives you purpose and meaning.

A mental health counselor can also help you figure out how to solve a variety of different problems. They can bring in a new perspective or different ideas or methods to approach the problems, and that may be just what you need to feel better and move forward with your life.

While working with a mental health counselor can be life changing, it’s important to realize that you have to take an active role in your recovery. Remember that this is a partnership, and it only works if both people—including you—puts in the time, effort, and work to get better.

Conclusion

Dealing with a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s also not an issue that you have to deal with alone. There are many professionals who have the skills and expertise you need, and seeking help may be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done. 

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