What Is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
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What Is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
Clinical mental health counseling offers various treatment methods to minimize and eliminate mental illnesses. Fortunately, healthcare providers, government officials, and organizations have joined forces to reach out to people who need mental health care.
Key Elements of Psychological Consideration
Clinical mental health counseling is a service offered by trained professionals to provide people with treatment that addresses mental health concerns. Clients are taught valuable coping mechanisms and strategies and helpful advice on dealing with everyday life issues. The American Psychological Association (APA) outlines these issues as:1
What Is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor?
Clinical mental health counselors are professionals who offer help through mental health, government, or social service agencies. These professionals include licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. They may conduct services to families, groups, or individuals. They are professionally and personally driven by a desire to help patients improve their overall wellness.
What Fields Do Clinical Mental Health Counselors Offer Help in?
Counseling usually involves a clinical diagnosis and treatment. A certified clinical mental health counselor has to get recognition from the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Clinical Mental Health Counselors Foundation of Education
The Board requires individuals to have education in the following areas:
- The diagnostic process
- Treatment planning
- Mental examinations
- Psychosocial evaluations
Clinical Mental Health Counselors Areas of Expertise
Certified clinical mental health counselors may have specialized expertise in areas like:
- Human sexuality
- Family and couples counseling
- Substance abuse and addiction counseling
- Counseling for victims of trauma and abuse
Clinical Mental Health Counseling vs. Clinical Psychology
While clinical mental health counselors and clinical psychologists have similar roles, they differ in a few ways. Mental health counselors require a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a similar field. They offer active listening skills, reflection, and understanding to help improve the lives of those with various mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling vs. Social Work
Clinical mental health counselors focus on helping individuals or families with specific issues. Typically, these patients battle mental health disorders. In contrast, social workers focus on providing vast services in the social service systems. Social workers may refer patients to other resources and services. They do this to provide a complete and more specialized treatment.
What Is the Purpose of Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
Mental health counseling offers physical and mental evaluations to assess potential disorders, such as addiction or depression. In addition, clinical mental health counselors determine whether a client is ready for treatment or not, help develop treatment strategies, and implement various therapeutic methods. They help people gain skills and behaviors that enhance mental wellness.
In the late 1800s, the Social Reform Movements and Industrial Revolution provoked the counseling profession’s response. The counseling profession then emerges as vocational guidance.
In the early 1900s, Frank Parsons, the father of vocational guidance, begins the Bureau of Vocational Guidance in Boston. The Bureau helps match people with suitable careers according to their traits and skills.
In 1913, Clifford Beers, leader of the Mental Health Movement, erected the first mental health clinic in America. He advocated for institutionalized patients with psychological disorders to undergo more humane treatments.
In the 1940s, counselors and psychologists needed to help the government select and train industrial and military specialists. This shortage is partly due to World War II. Furthermore, the United States Veterans Administration (VA) funds counselors and psychologists’ training to help accomplish these goals.
In 1942, Carl Rogers published Counseling and Psychotherapy. His work advocates for a patient-centered approach to psychotherapy. Later, his book became a pillar of counseling identity. The book emphasizes a client-centered theory. Rogers believed that you are a partner in the healing process and not just a patient for which counseling imposes a cure.
In 1952, the American Personnel and Guidance Association was created to give counselors a professional association. This association later became the American Counseling Association (ACA).
In 1958, the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was passed, providing funds to establish guidance and counseling institutes that train counselors. Over six hundred graduate counselor education programs currently training mental health counselors today originated due to NDEA funding to train secondary school counselors.
In 1963, the Community Mental Health Services Act was passed, offering funding to develop community-based mental health care programs with interdisciplinary teams. This act set the stage for master’s-level mental health professionals, making the field more accessible. The growing number of mental health practitioners provided grounds for a variety of services in hospitals, private practice, and community mental health centers.
In 1978, these new mental health practitioners created the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). Founding the AMHCA provided a foundation for professional organization and identity. One year later, the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors was founded in 1979 to provide a national certification process.
In 1983, the ACA established its credential, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). By the mid-1980s, it became apparent that new and rigorous standards had to be founded for health counselors to work in the healthcare system.
In 1992, the Center for Mental Health Services and the National Institute of Mental Health included counseling as a primary mental health profession.
In 2009, California became the final state to pass a counseling licensure law.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Forms
Clinical mental health counseling comes in a variety of different forms; they will be detailed below.
Mental health counselors work one-on-one with clients in a safe, confidential, and caring environment. Individual counseling consists of sessions between the client and the professional health provider, allowing them to explore beliefs, behaviors, and feelings. Clients can:
- Work through challenging memories
- Identify aspects of their life that they want to change and work towards those changes
- Better understand themselves and others
- Set personal goals
- Seek guidance with career planning
- Deal with work-related problems
- Cope with grief after a loved one dies
Family therapy helps family members improve their communication and resolve conflicts. It is often short-term and may include all family members or those willing or able to participate. The specific treatment plan depends on the family’s situation. Family therapy sessions:
- Teach clients skills that deepen family connections
- Enables clients to get through stressful situations, even after completing their therapy sessions
- Improves troubled relationships with partners, children, or other family members
- Addresses specific problems like marital or financial issues, conflict between children and parents, or the impact of mental illness or substance abuse on the entire family
- Teach coping strategies that bring families closer together
Couples therapy addresses various relationship issues, such as recurring conflicts, disconnection, an affair, and sex-related problems, to improve the couple’s relationship. This therapy also includes premarital counseling, marriage counseling, and family therapy. Couples therapy help solve issues, such as:
- Roles in the relationship
- Beliefs and values
- Time spent together
- Familial relationship
- Sex and intimacy
- Health issues
- External stressors
One or more mental health professionals work with several people in the same session. A trained professional may use group therapy alone or integrate it with individual treatment. Some types of group therapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral groups
- Interpersonal groups
- Psychoeducational groups
- Skills development groups
- Support groups
Benefits of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Let’s look deeper into some benefits of mental health counseling:
Clinical mental health counselors often help address behavioral disorders and substance abuse. Addiction counselors advise clients on managing stress and handling the problems they face during recovery. According to their needs, clients may attend group therapy (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step programs) or private settings. Mental health counselors help clients:
- Rebuild self-esteem
- Reestablish relationships
- Restore professional career
An addiction counselor may employ a crisis intervention when a person’s life or others are in danger.
Family & Marriage Counseling
Family and marriage counselors are responsible for helping people’s emotional and mental states within families and marriages. These mental health counselors can benefit those undergoing abuse, grief, infidelity, or other traumas. Family and marriage counseling allows clients to:
- Discuss what they have experienced
- Express their emotions
- Assist them in adjusting to difficult situations like divorce or financial setbacks
- Help them process reactions
- Provide them with coping strategies to overcome life’s difficulties
Mental Illness Diagnosis and Treatment
Mental illness diagnosis and treatment require some time to monitor and test to ensure accurate results. This way, mental health counselors can provide a proper diagnosis and find the underlying medical condition causing concern.
These professionals use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Mental health professionals use this manual to accurately diagnose mental disorders, as it lists behaviors, symptoms, feelings, and other criteria for all disorders. After diagnosis, the counselor devises a treatment plan and advises the patient on the results and risks involved.
Sometimes, stress can become unmanageable and affect people’s day-to-day routine and quality of life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Clinical mental health often involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT identifies and addresses negative responses, feelings, and emotions to encourage a healthier way to manage life. Examples of how this therapy can improve quality of life include:
- Strong relationships with family members and friends
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting the right amount of rest
- Avoidance of drugs and alcohol
- Positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
With mental health counseling, clients can gain the following benefits:
- Personal empowerment
- Overcoming the demoralization that social stigma causes
- Acceptance of life
- Personal insight
- Life skills
- Coping strategies to escape future mental health struggles
Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling in California
Pacific Beach Health offers clinical mental health counseling for all concerns. We provide various evidence-based therapies to ensure each client’s needs are correctly addressed and cared for. Our holistic and behavioral approach allows us to heal and treat conditions with long-term and positive recovery outcomes. Don’t hesitate to seek medical guidance—Pacific Beach Health is just one call away. Reach out today to inquire more about our counseling programs, psychotherapies, and behavioral therapies.