When seeking therapy or counseling and mental health services from mental health professionals, it is important to find a counselor or therapist who will best suit your needs, goals, and expectations. There are different types of counselors who have different training and backgrounds. Each type of mental health professional has different training requirements and specializations. One popular kind of therapist is a mental health counselor, a licensed clinical professional who uses therapeutic approaches like cognitive and behavioral therapies to help people who are dealing with mental illness or emotional health issues.
Who Can Mental Health Counselors Work With?
Mental health counselors are trained specifically to work with those who are experiencing mental illness and related disorders. Their credentialing requirements allow them to work directly with and diagnose people who deal with mental health disorders. They are equipped to make and accept referrals to professional services along with assessments for clinical recommendations. Mental health counseling licenses permit counselors to work with any age group. Mental health counselors can also be helpful to people going through a life change or experiencing a shorter-term problem that does not meet the criteria for a full-blown clinical mental illness.
Can A Mental Health Counselor Help Me?
Mental health counselors (MHCs) are specifically trained in the counseling and therapeutic process. Professional mental health counselors go through extensive training and supervision to ensure that they are properly trained to help with the challenges and struggles of their clients. Depending on which state you live in, an MHC might be called by a different legal term (such as licensed professional counselor or LPC). Mental health counselors typically do not prescribe medication, but they can recommend that you see a medical prescriber if they feel it is right for you. The following are common issues that mental health counselors are equipped to help with:
If you are an emergency situation with any of the above issues, please consider the below resources:
National Eating Disorder Association Helpline :1-800-931-2237 (M-Th : 9 AM-9PM EST, Fri 9 AM - 5 PM EST)
How To Choose The Right Mental Health Counselor For You
If you feel that you are struggling to cope with your mental health and wellness, you are not alone. Therapists providing mental health services understand that mental illness can impact anyone and do not hold negative beliefs (or stigma) about what it is to ask for help. Here are some steps to follow to help find the right mental health counselor for you:
BetterHelp.com is an online counseling platform that contracts with licensed mental health professionals who are there for you at any time you are ready to begin your therapeutic process to change and greater well-being. Therapists are available via private and secure messaging, live chat, or live audio or video sessions, depending on your individual needs.
If you find you’re still deciding which type of therapy might work best for you, it might help to have some additional information on how effective online therapy is. HuffPost and The New York Times have both run recent articles about that very topic. They sum up some of the top research that has been done regarding online therapy. And while it’s important to keep in mind that therapy is not one-size-fits-all and that different therapy techniques have different needs; the overall research seems to indicate that most psychotherapy or talk therapy with licensed mental health professionals is as effective online as it is in person for common issues.
Some other benefits to online therapy include how flexible it is. There’s no need to find and travel to an office; you can contact your counselor anywhere you have a secure, reliable internet connection. As you search for the right counselor for you, BetterHelp also has many techniques to help. That includes more than 14,000 counselors, with smart matching, and it’s easy to switch to someone else if that’s what you’d like.
Here are some recent reviews by BetterHelp users about their licensed professional counselors:
“I met with Debra to find a way to resolve a family conflict. I was new to counseling and was hesitant to reach out for help. Debra was a compassionate listener who immediately made me feel comfortable. She helped me gain insight and self-knowledge in order to incorporate new tools and behaviors that I could use in order to set boundaries and establish healthy communication with my family member. I have found a new confidence in setting boundaries in other areas of my life as well.” Read more on Deborah Keklak.
“Erin has been great with me, she is very flexible and understanding. Ridiculously brilliant and intuitive. I would recommend Erin to anyone because I feel like I have the best therapist around. I was new to therapy and uncomfortable at first but she has done wonders with coaching me and making me feel at ease about the whole idea. Not only has she helped me with my own mental struggles but helped me increase stability in my marriage and home.” Read more on Erin Miller.
Below are some commonly asked questions on thic topic:
Should I go to a therapist or psychiatrist?
Can a therapist diagnose bipolar?
How do you get evaluated for mental illness?
Can a therapist diagnose schizophrenia?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How does mental health counseling help?
Mental health therapy helps, no matter the type of therapy, because it helps people “unlearn” unhealthy thought patterns and coping mechanisms, and replace those unhealthy patterns with healthy ones. Healthy thought patterns and behaviors will improve with consistent talk therapy and counseling, which will bleed over into every other facet of your life. Mental health therapy helps with previously experienced trauma, unprocessed fears, and a host of personality, mood, and other mental disorders by getting to the root of them and developing healthy and effective ways to manage symptoms and feel comfortable in your skin. To make sure mental health counseling does its job, however, it is imperative to make sure that you are your counselor are a good fit. If not, you can stop therapy with a poor fit and restart therapy with another counselor who is better suited for you.
How do counselors help with anxiety?
Although some types of anxiety require medication for successful management, others are managed very well with a certain type of therapy or counseling. This is because not all anxiety behaves in the same way, and many anxiety symptoms are derived from unhealthy thought patterns and ineffective coping mechanisms, like avoidance. It can seem like a management technique to avoid things that provoke anxiety—and can be necessary, as healing is in its first stages—but avoidance is actually a core symptom of anxiety disorders, and can make symptoms increase in severity. A counselor can help you reframe your thoughts, and learn how to more effectively manage the feeling that arise in response to anxiety disorders’ triggers. For some, therapy or counseling is enough to recover from anxiety disorders, while for others, anxiety is a lifelong companion, with seasons of higher and lower symptoms. In either case, though, counseling can help soothe anxiety symptoms and provide relief.
Can mental health counselor diagnose?
Some mental health professionals will diagnose, depending on state licensing requirements and guidelines, though LCSWs (licensed clinical social workers) do not typically provide diagnoses for their clients. This is an important distinction to make, because diagnoses are often the first steps on the road to recovery; after all, how can you treat the problem, if you are not sure what the problem actually is? Knowing who can diagnose is an important step in the process of finding the right therapist. Mental health counselors will typically begin a treatment regimen with a period of intake and assessment, followed by a diagnosis. Speaking with a patient or client for as little as one session or as much as 5 or more sessions allows a counselor to gain a well-rounded portrait of a patient’s concerns and symptoms, in order to deliver an accurate diagnosis or diagnoses. Group therapy, marriage, and family therapy are three types of therapy that are unlikely to yield a diagnosis, however, as the purpose of these types of therapy is on relationship dynamics and goals, rather than individual diagnoses.
What skills do mental health counselors need?
Mental health counselors must exhibit kindness, consideration, patience, critical thinking skills, and active listening skills. Mental health counselors listen to people discuss some extremely private and vulnerable things, and they must be able to meet that vulnerability and openness with compassion, while making sure they are listening to what is and is not being said. Licensed professional counselors must also use critical thinking, because they have to listen to a patient, determine the source of their issues, and deliver diagnoses and treatment plans correctly. Although the desire to listen to and help others is a fantastic foundation for wanting to be a mental health professional, the desire to help must be paired with appropriate boundary-setting, and the ability to evaluate critically—especially in group therapy settings and other settings that might require a split focus. Although not everyone who steps into your practice will be a good fit for your skills, maintaining your skills can help make sure you are able to provide mental health counseling to as many clients as possible.
What skills do you need to work in mental health?
One of the most important skills to have to work in mental health services is that of setting and maintaining boundaries. Boundaries are essential to working as a mental health professional because the relationship between a good therapist and patient can set the stage for health improvements—or further dives into illness. Why? The relationship established between a client and a counselor is one based on trust and vulnerability. If that trust is betrayed and vulnerability is regarded with scorn, disgust, or any other type of harmful response, the person may struggle to open up again in the future.
Learning how to effectively set boundaries—maintain a professional distance, maintain professional working hours, and set clear rules and expectations—will make sure the relationship between the patient and therapist remains intact, and will also make sure that both the patient and therapist feel comfortable, know what their role is, and what is and is not appropriate moving forward, including in group therapy and any other type of therapy.
In addition to being able to maintain and set boundaries, mental health professionals must be able to demonstrate compassion and active listening. While anyone can sit in silence while someone else speaks, therapists do not merely listen; they ask questions, clarify thought patterns, and identify behaviors that might not be visible to the person exhibiting them. Therapists must also greet their clients with compassion, because compassion can help limit the spread and scope of feelings of shame—feelings that can compound and intensify existing issues.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
The term “mental illness” is not one that is often used, anymore, because it has come to be associated with negativity. Instead of mental illness, the term “mental condition” or “mental disorder” is preferred, because the word disorder more accurately describes what is happening in mental health conditions: disordered thinking and disordered behavior. That being said, anxiety is counted among the many mental health conditions recognized by mental health professionals today. The reasons for this are numerous, but perhaps the most significant reasons are as follows: anxiety has a strong, deleterious effect on daily life. Anxiety symptoms can significantly impair a person’s ability to form and maintain relationships. Anxiety is not cured or avoided by simply changing some habits or inviting healthier patterns into your life. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed mental health conditions that require treatment—treatment that can look different for everyone. Some are able to stop therapy within a matter of months and continue to experience positive changes, while others will need therapy indefinitely.
What helps severe anxiety?
Severe anxiety is best tackled through a multi-layered approach involving all aspects of an individual’s life. To start, many people with severe anxiety secure a prescription to an anxiety medication, whether that medication is an SSRI, a benzodiazepine, or a beta blocker, and begin attending regular therapy sessions, as all different types of therapy can be useful in treating anxiety symptoms, including family therapy. These together can be a wonderful way to begin working on anxiety symptoms and providing relief and may involve different doctors; after all a family doctor can prescribe anti-anxiety medication, while symptoms are best treated by another mental wellness professional. Patients with severe anxiety may also wish to include supplementary changes, such as exposure therapy, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and mindfulness practices, all of which can fuse together to create a robust and engaging treatment regimen.
What should I not tell a psychiatrist?
Although there are not truly things that are considered “off limits” to a psychiatrist, it does bear mentioning that all mental health professionals, including psychiatrists are required to report any illegal activity identified by their clients, whether that illegal activity is conducted by the client, or someone close to the client. Crimes and abuse are the two most commonly reported things that a psychiatrist must then turn and report to the proper authority, but this does not mean that you should not tell a psychiatrist: if someone is being abused, it is better for that information to come to the fore and be addressed. If a crime has been committed or is being contemplated, that can also benefit from being divulged. Apart from these things, you can speak to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional about any symptoms or concerns you feel comfortable disclosing. Psychiatrists are often utilized primarily as a way to secure a diagnosis, and finding the right therapist might mean going through several different types of mental health professionals.
What is the difference between school counseling and mental health counseling?
The two types of therapy can be quite similar, or can be extremely divergent, depending on what is being requested of the counselor. If a child in school attends therapy and counseling due to issues at home, for instance, the process of receiving counseling is unlikely to be too different from that of a mental health counselor outside of school. If, however, a child is struggling with school-specific issues, such as feeling inadequate and struggling to complete homework, a school counselor will likely focus treatment efforts on schoolwork and school-based concerns, rather than using a wider treatment scope.
What does a mental health counselor do on a daily basis?
On a daily basis, a mental health counselor can expect to consult with a handful of clients with mental disorders or mental health conditions for sessions ranging from 30-90 minutes, followed by or preceded by corresponding paperwork and diagnostic and treatment work. For most types of mental health counselors, the day is not absolutely stocked with clients back-to-back; instead, clients are dotted throughout the day, with paperwork and individual client information being completed, tweaked, and worked on in the in-between times. Most types of mental health counselors may have fewer clients or more, depending on the practice in which they are working. Working in a hospital setting, for instance, might involve more paperwork and healthcare team work and fewer one-on-one sessions, while a private practice or mental health clinic might involve fewer team approaches and more one-on-one sessions with clients.
How do you diagnose mental health?
Mental disorders are diagnosed only after a thorough assessment and intake has been conducted by someone with a medical degree or an advanced health services education. This is vital to delivering an accurate diagnosis to clients, as mental disorders can often present as one another, and a quick glance at a sheet of reported symptoms or a few minutes of talking is certainly not enough to determine what is plaguing and individual’s mind. To make a diagnosis, almost types of mental health professionals will typically ask their clients to fill out a questionnaire evaluating anxiety and depressive behaviors and thoughts in the recent past (anywhere from one week to six months), speak to the client in question and ask why they are seeking therapy and what their symptoms are, evaluated signs the client is presenting, and cobble these individual observations and reports together to determine the most likely culprit. Mental health diagnoses are usually delivered in personal sessions, and are not standard in marriage and family therapy or other types of therapy.
While mental health has come a long way—even in the past decade—there are still shifts and changes to be made to diagnoses, sometimes. Borderline Personality Disorder, for instance, might mistakenly be viewed as Bipolar Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder, before being modified as therapy continues. Anxiety might be mistaken for a depressive disorder. Most types of mental health diagnoses offer a wonderful starting point for a healing journey, but titles and identifiers can shift throughout the healing process, based on new evidence, uncovered risk factors, and past traumas.
What are the five Counselling skills?
Five of the most important therapy and counseling skills include the following:
What are the qualities of a good Counsellor?
A good therapist or counselor is kind, compassionate, professional, skilled at pattern recognition, a strong communicator, and a wonderful active listener.
How can I improve my counseling skills?
Continuing education is one way to improve your therapy and counseling skills. The medical field is constantly changing and innovating and mental health is no exception. New insights into human functioning, new therapeutic techniques, and new perspectives on treatment seem to emerge every week, and staying on top of those changes and shifts by attending lectures and workshops can help you continually develop skills that will benefit your clients and your practice.
As the old adage suggests, practice makes perfect. Continue working in the field, with an eye for where you can improve, and then seek out practical ways to implement those improvements. If a client says that you can come off as kind of cold, listen and adapt your greeting or demeanor. If a coworker mentions that you seem to be a few minutes late to all of your appointments, listen, and try to get to each session a little bit early. In all that you do, be sure to listen to feedback and implement changes as needed.
Why do you work in mental health?
Working in mental health is extremely rewarding. As with any medical profession, many people who work in this field feel as though they are a part of something greater than themselves, and pride themselves on being able to help people realize goals in their health, relationships, careers, and lives overall. Working in mental health can also be challenging, and days may look completely different. This can make it an ideal career for people who are not comforted or pleased by tedious work, or work that remains consistent day in and day out.
What type of therapist can diagnose?
Knowing what types of mental health professionals can diagnose will help you determine the kind of help you should seek, if you ever need it. There are a number of mental health professionals that can diagnose mental health conditions, although not every one of them will be able to prescribe medication to manage symptoms. Providers that are able to assess and diagnose mental illnesses in a private and hispital setting include:
What's the difference between a counselor and a therapist?
There’s quite a bit of uncertainty about these terms because the title ‘therapist’ can be (and often is) used by any type of mental health professional that has obtained an advanced degree from an accredited graduate program, is licensed to provide a form of therapy (if they have received proper training), and has the required supervised clinical work experience. So, technically, a licensed professional counselor providing mental health services can also be called a therapist.
There are also many types of licensed professional counselors that can provide individual and group counseling, such as a marriage and relationship counselor, drug abuse counselor, trauma counselor, pediatric counselor, and more.
Should I go to a therapist or psychiatrist?
It depends on what kind of help you need. If you are experiencing severe or debilitating mental health symptoms that may require medications, maximize efficiency by seeing a psychiatrist first. On the other hand, if you to discuss your mental health concerns, make changes to your thought patterns, or explore ways to cope with traumatic experiences, drug abuse, or a mental health condition, you may benefit from seeing a licensed professional therapist.
Can a therapist diagnose bipolar?
Yes, therapists can diagnose all types of mental health conditions and mental disorders, including bipolar disorder.