Home > counseling, mental health > Making a Decision about Counseling

Making a Decision about Counseling

Most of us experience times when we need help to deal with problems and issues that cause us emotional distress. When you are having a problem or dilemma that is making you feel overwhelmed, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional. Professional counselors and therapists offer the caring, expert assistance that people need during stressful times.

There are many types of mental health providers to choose from. The most important thing is to select a licensed professional who has the appropriate training and qualifications to help a person with your specific issues. You should also choose someone with whom you can feel comfortable enough to speak freely and openly.

Types of Problems

People seek the assistance of a mental health professional (MHP) for many different reasons. These are some of the most common:

1. You feel unhappy most of the time.
2. You worry all the time and have difficulty making decisions.
3. You feel extremely sad and helpless.
4. You feel nervous, anxious, and worried most of the time.
5. You have panic attacks.
6. You have a hard time concentrating.
7. Your emotional state is affecting your daily life negatively.
8. You are having a hard time functioning from day to day.
9. Your behavior is harmful to yourself or to others.
10. You are feeling impatient and angry with someone you are taking care of.

The list can go on, but is it important to find someone who is properly trained to help you with your specific needs.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

The most common MHPs in the United States are Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers, and Professional Counselors. Each state has its own licensing laws and standards that govern each type of professional. While all licensed MHPs can help most people with problems of living, each group has its own special training in specific areas that makes them more qualified for certain types of issues. In addition, each individual therapist has a unique set of experiences that makes him or her uniquely qualified to work with certain kinds of issues.

Psychologists generally have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in psychology from an accredited school. They must complete a rigorous internship period and pass a state licensing exam. In addition to their undergraduate college degree, most psychologists spend five to seven years in education and training. They study scientific methods and the science of human behavior, building skills for working with people who have real life problems.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) generally have a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related subject from an accredited school. In most states, they must complete a supervised internship period and pass a state licensing exam. Marriage and family therapists are trained to work with people, focusing on how they relate to others. While they often work with an individual client, the focus of treatment is the set of relationships that surround the client and how those relationships impact the client. MFTs are trained in psychotherapy and family systems. They are licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems. They work in a variety of settings with individuals, couples, families, children and adolescents, providing support and a fresh viewpoint as people struggle with life’s challenges.

Social Workers have a BSW or MSW from an accredited school. They must have completed an MSW and a supervised internship before passing a state licensing exam. (Each state has its own licensing regulations.) The social work profession focuses on individual happiness and well-being in a social context. It is also concerned with the well-being of the society that surrounds the individual. Social workers are trained to pay attention to the environmental forces that may contribute to the individual’s life problems.

Licensed Professional Counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or a related subject from an accredited school. In most states, they must complete a supervised internship period and pass a state licensing exam. Professional counselors specialize in cultivating a therapeutic relationship that allows clients to explore personal matters, and observe changes in feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Referral to Other Health Professionals

When it is in the best interest of the client or outside the scope of the MHP’s license, therapists collaborate with and refer to other health professionals, such as physicians or psychiatrists in the case of prescribing medication.

Confidentiality

Each group of MHPs has strict ethical guidelines governing privacy and confidentiality. Clients of licensed MHPs can expect that discussions will be kept confidential, except as otherwise required or permitted by law. Examples of times when confidentiality must be broken are when child abuse has occurred or where the client threatens violence against another person.
When you are looking for a mental health professional to help you address your issues, it is very important to ask about a therapist’s qualifications to treat your specific concerns.

Visit these web sites to learn more:
www.aamft.org (National Assoc. of Marriage & Family Therapy)
www.apa.org (American Psychological Association)
www.naswdc.org (National Association of Social Work)
www.counseling.org (American Counseling Association)
www.nbcc.org (National Board for Certified Counselors)

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Categories: counseling, mental health
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