What Does A Counseling Psychologist Do?

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated August 2, 2022
Are you considering talking to a counseling psychologist about a mental health concern you're having? A licensed counseling psychologist has the education and training to help you deal with many life situations and personal challenges. What exactly do they do for you, though? How can a counseling psychologist help with problems you can't conquer on your own? Looking at the job of a counseling psychologist can be helpful as you consider what to do next to improve your mental health.

professional psychologist working in counseling psychology with a patient. Professional counselor of psychology.

Wondering How A Counseling Psychologist Can Help Improve Your Mental Health?

How does a counseling psychologist help?

Individuals might be skeptical of how a counseling psychologist can help with mental health concerns. Whether you choose traditional or online therapy, this article will look at the data and a few of the ways that counseling can help. A therapist or counselor: 

  • Listens when others don't
  • Acts as a sounding board
  • Contributes objective observations
  • Shares their expertise
  • Helps you identify problems
  • Helps you work through past trauma
  • Assists you in setting reasonable goals
  • Teaches you to change your thinking
  • Helps you change your behavior
  • Teaches you important life coping skills

If you want to try meeting with a psychologist, you aren't alone. One survey of information that the author and experts at the American Psychological Association mention online found that around 59 million people seek treatment for mental health each year, and the vast majority find it to be successful.

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?

Generically speaking, a psychologist is an expert of knowledge in the field of psychology and the history of psychology. They study the science of the human mind, focusing on how thoughts lead to feelings and behaviors. Psychologists do many different types of jobs. They may work in mental health clinics, hospitals, research facilities, online counseling platforms, businesses, or educational institutions.

So, what exactly does a psychologist do? That depends on the type of setting in which they practice. Below is a list of psychologists and what they do.

  • Counseling Psychologist– Also known as a clinical psychologist, a counseling psychologist uses talk therapy to help people with their mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, grief, anger issues, and social problems.
  • Online Psychologist– An online psychologist uses talk therapy and other methods in the same way as other counseling psychologists. The only difference is that they do it remotely, from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • School Psychologist– A school psychologist may work at any level in the educational system. Their job is to help students succeed in school and universities. They may also work with parents and faculty to foster a better learning environment for the student.

counselor, psychological counselor, counseling for psychologist

  • Child Psychologist– Child psychologists work with children. They may also work with the child's parents and sometimes other family members if it will help the child’s progress. Typical goals for child psychologists and their programs are to help a child overcome trauma, to improve family relationships, to deal with problems like acting out or depression, and foster healthy psychological development.
  • Research Psychologist– A research psychologist designs, oversees, and reports on scientific studies, often in an academic environment.
  • Business Psychologist– A business psychologist may do a variety of jobs, including working in human resources, helping design marketing strategies, and doing other tasks related to helping the business succeed. Consumer psychologists also work within the business arena, studying the decision-making processes consumers use before purchasing a product or service.
  • Forensic Psychologists– These psychologists work within the legal system, using scientific methods to investigate the psychological aspects of a crime.

What's a Clinical Counselor?

A clinical psychologist is another type of counseling psychologist who provides services directly to mental health consumers. For example, they may have a specialty in working with a certain age groups, such as children or the elderly. They might do group therapy for families, couples, or people sharing similar problems, such as substance use or grief. Some clinical psychologists specialize in one specific type of talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or interpersonal therapy. Others use a more eclectic approach that relies on elements of several different talk therapies.

Can Psychologists Prescribe Medications For Counseling?

Sometimes people with mental health challenges need to take medications to reduce symptoms and help them live a more emotionally comfortable life. The question many people seeing a counselor ask is "Can psychologists prescribe medications?" In most cases, they cannot. A psychiatrist or other medical doctor typically takes care of this part of the treatment. However, in Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico, psychologists are indeed allowed to prescribe medications if they have the necessary training.

Please consult with your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options.

How a Counseling Psychologist Can Help You

If you want to improve your mental health, a counseling psychologist can help you do that. But, what do they do that you can't do for yourself? Without getting into the technical details of each type of therapy, a psychologist uses the therapeutic process to provide you with expert help and support in the following ways:

A Counseling Therapist Listens

For a psychologist to do their job, they must listen to what you have to say. For most people with mental health issues, this alone justifies the time and effort they spend engaging in psychotherapy. Sometimes, all you need is to be heard. Counseling psychologists are skilled active listeners who pay attention when others can't or won't.

Acts as a Sounding Board

Perhaps you have some ideas about what your mental health conditions are, what caused them, or what you need to do to overcome them. Most counselors are happy to hear what you have to say and let you talk it out until you conclude. In addition, they can offer feedback to help facilitate your insight.

Contributes Objective Observations

Whether you see a psychologist for help with depression, anxiety, or work issues, your mental health issues can affect how you see events and ongoing situations. In these instances, a counseling psychologist can provide an objective perspective. Even if you describe an event in very emotional terms, the psychologist can glean facts from your description and contribute their objective view of it.

Shares Their Expertise

You're familiar with what has happened to you and how you've dealt with it so far. An advantage of talking about your situation with a psychologist is that they have not only seen many similar dilemmas but also a variety of responses to those situations. In addition, as they studied and trained in psychology, they developed a level of expertise that allows them to see the situation from a professional viewpoint. They can then offer solutions that have proven effective in studies and their clinical experiences.

Helps You Identify Problems

Although you may have a general idea that something is wrong, you might not know if you have a specific mental health condition that needs to be addressed. Also, you might know of one problem without realizing other issues are contributing to your distress. A clinical psychologist can learn about these problems through interviews with you and tests designed to evaluate your thought processes, emotions, and behavior. They might ask you whether you're experiencing certain symptoms to determine if you need to be evaluated further for a mental health condition.

Counseling Helps You Work Through Traumas

People who have experienced psychological trauma often need to see a psychologist to face the emotions surrounding the traumatic event or situation. They are not only there to listen but also to help you understand how the trauma has affected you. They can guide you to a better perspective on the issue and help you realize your power to overcome the trauma to live a better life today.

Helps You Set Reasonable Goals

When you don't know what to do about a mental, emotional, or behavioral problem, going to a psychologist for help is an excellent way to make that decision. The counseling psychologist can explain what types of goals would be beneficial to your mental health. Then, they can help you set goals that require some effort but that you can achieve without intense fear of failure.

Teaches You How to Change the Way You Think

There are times when the most crucial part of overcoming a mental health issue is simply to think differently about it. Through cognitive restructuring, the counselor can help you change your thought patterns concerning troubling events, dysfunctional relationships, or your concept of yourself. They can help you make better choices about what thoughts to focus on, too.

Works with You to Change Your Behavior

Changing thoughts is usually the best starting point for changing behavior. However, along with changing your thoughts, you may need to work on actively choosing different behaviors. Sometimes, counselors help you plan how you will behave in a certain situation. They may also suggest ways to reward yourself for choosing mentally healthier behaviors. It might be that just having someone to report to will provide you with the motivation you need to make the behavioral changes you've decided to make.

Teaches You Relaxation Techniques and Coping Skills

Psychologists don't send you out to conquer your problems without offering some preparation for dealing with them. One way they do this is by teaching you relaxation techniques such as belly breathing, systematic muscle relaxation, or mindfulness. They typically teach you a variety of coping skills you can use whenever you need them. These coping skills can include problem-solving skills to help you choose action rather than inaction. They also include ways to minimize the emotional impact you feel when you're under stress. With relaxation techniques and coping skills ready to go, you can deal with situations you might have once thought impossible to face.

Offers You Support

A psychologist can offer you support during times of great stress and serious emotional difficulties. While someone else in your life might be too preoccupied with their concerns to offer you much support, a counseling psychologist counts supporting you as a part of their life's work. No matter how you think, feel, or behave, your psychologist supports your sincere efforts to improve your mental health.

Can an Online Psychologist Offer the Same Types of Help?

psychologist counseling a patient. counseling for a psychologist

Wondering How A Counseling Psychologist Can Help Improve Your Mental Health?

Online psychologists have the same requirements as an in-person therapist and can help you with your mental health issues. People often ask, "Can an online psychologist give me the same kinds of therapy and support I would get from a clinical psychologist in my local community?" It's a fair question, especially if you haven't used many online services before.
The answer to this question is that a counseling psychologist who works through an online platform can offer the same types of talk therapy, the same level of emotional support, and the equivalent expert help you might get from a psychologist you see in person within your community. An extensive study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute found online therapy to be as effective as face-to-face counseling, with 98% of clients reporting significant progress.
You can begin therapy with an online counselor after filling out a simple form and choosing a therapist from the many who work through BetterHelp. Without having to leave the comfort of your home and meet at a time that’s convenient for you, you can begin addressing your mental health concerns with a supportive and understanding online therapist. You can read a couple of reviews of our therapists below.

Counselor Reviews

"In the short span of 9 months, Shonnie has become like one of my best friends. At first, I was skeptical of doing therapy since I'm very "psychologically healthy." A few challenges in my personal life lead me to try therapy for a month. Now I consider it an important part of my growth as a businessman and leader within my community. Thank you, Shonnie, for being so helpful during the recent difficulties; I am very lucky to have found you!"
"I'll be honest, I was a little skeptical about doing therapy today online versus in person. I was also afraid that I would have to go through so many therapists until I found the right one since I couldn't meet them in person... but Dr. Cox Lance is wonderful. She is kind, compassionate, understanding, flexible, professional, and truly wants to help people. She has only been my counselor for a couple of weeks, but I already love her and doubt I will need to switch counselors again. She has gone above and beyond, and that's rare to find. I highly highly recommend her."

Moving Forward

Whether you're facing a severe mental health crisis or just need help handling everyday stressors, starting with a counseling psychologist can improve your mental health and help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do counseling psychologists do?

All over the country and world, counseling psychologists focus on improving your personal and interpersonal communication and lifestyle. Counseling psychology is a clinical psychology field comprised of mental health professionals who focus on things ranging from mental disorders, mental health, therapy services, career counseling, and group counseling. Counseling psychologists have the ability to work with patients to navigate mental health struggles and disorders, address problems that arise in their lives, and other a broad range of well-being assistance.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a counseling psychologist?

A counseling psychologist helps clients achieve overall wellness, and a psychologist analyzes clients from an exact scientific perspective. A licensed counseling psychologist focuses their work on working directly with their clients through talk therapy, addressing psychological disorders, sexual orientation, or any other type of thing a person is working through in their life in order to help them move forward. They may be under the clinical supervision of another psychologist in order to provide the best treatment.

How do I become a counseling psychologist?

Counseling psychologists work to practice psychology in a day-to-day operation. This professional psychology and consultation services require a degreefromh professional organizations and licensed schools, especially to open private practices. You must be comfortable working through topics such as bipolar disorder and other mental health diagnoses, and in most states, the state license requires a Master's degree. The average salary for these working professionals is around 80-160k per year.
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