How counseling can help mental health and aid in health care
Counseling, in some form or another, has been around as long as humans have existed. It can be as little as putting your arm around someone who is suffering or giving a little advice when a friend needs it. In the modern age, counseling has evolved into a scientifically researched profession that helps millions of people every day with their mental health. Today one in five American adults has a mental health condition with over 40 million of them receiving therapy in the past year.
How can mental health conditions be treated?
Most mental health conditions can be treated with various forms of care, including counseling, therapy, and medication. Each condition requires different types of treatment, and what works for one person may not work for another. The first part of any counseling is working out what treatment is right for the condition and the patient.
How counseling can help poor mental health
Counseling covers a wide array of conditions, and there are many different techniques to help treat those conditions. These can be tailored to match the individual needs of the patient needing treatment. Counseling usually involves developing a bond of trust in a professional capacity with someone who listens to the patient’s issues and devises a strategy to deal with their condition.
Some of the benefits of counseling include the following:
- Treatment for behavioral health conditions including depression (major depression disorder, seasonal depression disorder, and dysthymia), anxiety (general anxiety, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias), substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.
- Reducing medical costs. By treating mental health conditions, patients’ physical health can often be improved or prevented from deteriorating in the first place. If the patients have received counseling, it often correlates that their physical health is also improved.
- Fortitude and strength provided by counseling can give patients the tools they need to tackle the issues they are facing. Often patients are left with a feeling of optimism and newfound self-esteem, which gives them the confidence to develop the skills necessary to improve their mental well-being.
- Education and skill learning can help patients treat their issues in the short and the long term. Simply understanding what is causing the issue can go a long way in treating it, while basic techniques can be learned quite quickly to start the healing process. In the long term, patients learn skills that can change their overall behavior and mindfulness, for example, using cognitive behavioral therapy to change negative thought patterns into positive ones.
Different types of counseling, including couples, family, and group
Some counselors train specifically in couples therapy, there is a great demand for it, and it helps to have someone trained and practiced in the area. It clearly works, with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy research showing that over 97% of couples got the help they needed through couples’ therapy.
Family therapy also has counselors who specialize in that form of therapy and deal with opening lines of communication, divorce (or prevention of), loss of a family member, or even something smaller like moving towns or setting goals for the family.
Group therapy can be beneficial to many people, especially those who need to feel they are not the only ones facing their problems. Discussing the issues with others who have had similar experiences can make it easier to feel understood. It also helps those who struggle with accountability, for example, Alcoholics Anonymous and their sponsor system. Group therapy is also usually more cost-effective, reducing the financial strain some people can struggle with.
Benefits of good mental health
Research has shown that having good mental health improves physical health and life expectancy, increases productivity, creativity, and learning, and improves social relationships and behavior. Low mental health can impact day-to-day functioning, cause distress, affect relationships, and lead to poor physical health and even premature death through suicide. It also works the other way around, with those in good physical health less likely to suffer from mental health issues.
If you find it deeply fulfilling to help improve the lives of people, enrolling in a clinical mental health course from Walsh University will give you the tools you need for an exciting career.
So, what if you want to help others by working as a clinical mental health counselor?
If you want to go into this profession, the National Board for Certified Counselors requires that individuals who wish to become certified as counselors must have an eligible degree.
In addition, they must have earned a passing score on either the NCE or the NCMHCE, completed the relevant supervision and work experience requirements, plus complied with the conduct standards.
Counselors must be educated in the diagnostic process, mental examinations, psychosocial evaluations, psychopharmacology, and treatment planning.
Where can you work with a degree in counseling?
There are a wide variety of employment opportunities for those who want to pursue a fulfilling career in counseling. Below, we have explored some of the areas you can work in once you are qualified.
Hospitals – Whether it is providing mental health evaluations, being a grief counselor, rehabilitation, or helping patients overcome psychological or behavioral issues, there are many jobs in hospitals for those with a degree in counseling. There is also more room for career growth into more senior positions in hospitals because of the wide array of specialties and opportunities covered by a larger establishment.
Veteran Affairs hospitals and clinics – At these facilities, counselors are required to care for veterans and their families and cover subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief, and anger management.
Detox centers – Counselors are usually split into two categories in this field, inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient counselors usually deal with 24-hour care of high-risk patients battling substance abuse. Outpatient counselors are more likely to give treatment during the day, with patients returning home in the evenings. There are over 23 million Americans who need counseling for substance abuse.
Mental health facilities – These facilities offer a wide spectrum of positions depending on the specialism of the counselor and the level of their degree. The positions range from community counselor to social worker or case manager to director of the facility.
Residential homes – Counselors at these facilities are often caring for patients with physical or mental disabilities, autistic children, or troubled and at-risk children. These counseling sessions can be one-on-one or group discussions and can cover an array of issues.
Geriatric facilities – Hospitals, retirement homes, senior community centers, assisted living communities and independent living communities require counselors to care for the elderly in a variety of ways.
Halfway Houses – Counselors at halfway houses are usually specialists in substance abuse and rehabilitation. They are required to help the patients rehabilitate into society including their families, work, and the community.
The houses usually fall into three categories; voluntary substance abuse- where patients have chosen to have counseling in order to get themselves off substances, and these are generally in an outpatient setting. Court-mandated – where patients have been ordered by a court to attend after being formerly incarcerated. Mental health – usually victims of domestic abuse or those that require medical supervision.
Schools, Colleges, and Universities – Counseling in the education system can range from advising students in their choices of further education or careers to crisis intervention after a traumatic incident like the death of someone at the school. Depending on the position, the required level of education could be from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s.
At elementary and middle school levels, counselors are usually required to help teachers and parents evaluate the children and assess if they need any additional support. At high schools the most common position is guidance counselor, helping students make decisions on their future. Colleges and Universities offer the opportunity to teach counseling to students or the possibility of pursuing research and writing textbooks.
Prisons and correctional facilities – Counseling needed at these facilities usually covers patients’ mental health and substance abuse, but counselors can also help inmates prepare for the transition back into society.
Retail – The retail industry often requires counselors to help in their public relations and human resources departments, especially in larger organizations.
Charities – The nonprofit sector often needs counselors to help in a large array of areas, including substance abuse, rehabilitation, family counseling, and many more. Social service agencies such as the governmental division of Child and Family Services are often in need of counselors in all sectors.
Public and private practice – Usually, counselors in these positions have a specialist area they concentrate on, such as substance abuse or marriage counseling, and require a PhD. However, positions in research or admin are available to those with a bachelor’s degree as long as they are under the supervision of a certified psychologist.
The take home
Counseling covers a wide variety of areas in all aspects of human interaction, from treating an individual’s mental health issue to helping a whole community. Scientifically backed research has proven the benefits of counseling on both psychological and physical health and can help everyone live a better, healthier life.