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What is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

Clinical mental health counseling aims to help patients work through various mental health, behavioral or mood disorders. Learn more here.

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What is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

Clinical mental health counseling aims to evaluate, treat, and work with patients who may struggle with various mental health issues. These issues can range from depression and anxiety to someone with a behavioral or mood disorder like bipolar II disorder.

Clinical mental health counselors will also work with various ages, ranging from children to adolescents to adults. Due to the high level of change and workload, counselors need to have strong flexibility and interpersonal skills to keep up with what their patients need.1

How Is Clinical Mental Health Counseling Different from Clinical Psychology?

While the two areas may sound very similar, they also have notable differences. Educationally, clinical mental health counselors will need a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field, while a clinical psychologist will have a doctoral degree in a related field.

Also, clinical counseling services will generally focus only on an individual patient to help them treat and provide help for mental health-related issues. Clinical psychologists more often work with groups of people, such as families or students, even though they can also care for individuals. Clinical psychology, as a field, mainly operates at community mental health centers, schools, or within hospital settings.2

What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do?

Mental health counselors work with patients to treat their mental health or behavioral condition to help them learn how to improve self-esteem, create coping mechanisms, and improve overall communication and behavioral skills. While they commonly work with individuals, they can also work with families, couples, and groups.3

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling will mainly focus on a mental health professional working one-on-one with a patient who may be dealing with hardships resulting from depression, substance abuse, mood issues, or anger.

Family Counseling

Going to a clinical mental health counselor to get assistance with family issues will involve focusing on areas such as the structure of the family, potential communication issues, or other conflicts within the unit itself.

Couples Counseling

In couples counseling, a mental health practitioner will help the couple with conflict resolution, creating realistic and attainable relationship goals, and addressing any untoward behavior within the relationship.

Group Counseling

Group counseling will involve a licensed mental health counselor working with multiple people at a time. This allows the patients to learn from each other while receiving new techniques from the counselor.

Role of a Mental Health Counselor

One of the best attributes of mental health counselors is that they can help a vast array of patients work through multiple issues. They may work with adults who show signs of anxiety and depression one day and then travel to a school to work with a student with a behavioral or mood disorder the next. Mental health counselors also can work in outpatient settings.

Some of the most important roles of a mental health counselor also include:
  •  Working with clients to establish and treat their mental conditions 
  •  Determining the approaches to take for counseling and mental treatment
  •  Establishing clear goals for the treatment process
  •  Facilitating and encouraging communication 
  •  Helping to improve a patient’s self-esteem
  •   Promoting behavioral changes at a systemic level

Skills and Traits of a Clinical Mental Health Counselor

To be a successful and supportive clinical mental health counselor, there are various skills that one needs to have. These can include:
  •  Good problem-solving skills
  •  Rapport-building skills
  •  Effective communication
  •  Being a good listener
  •  Being empathetic and compassionate
  •  Having an open mind
  •  Being self-aware 
  •  Wanting to help and support others

Benefits of Mental Health Counseling

Seeking mental health care can offer various benefits, even if you’re not currently struggling with a mental health condition. While mental healthcare has been stigmatized for decades, it is slowly becoming a more socially acceptable source of care, opening its availability for many patients. Some of the most important benefits of mental health counseling include:
  •  Improving relationships 
  •  Skill-building
  •  Tackling the substance abuse epidemic
  •  Diagnosing and treating mental illness 
  •  Helping individuals cope with and conquer stress
  •  Working through trauma and abuse 
Mental health counselors can also emphasize the importance of self-care, which many patients can work on at home. This may include getting adequate exercise, eating well, taking time for themselves, and setting goals and priorities that work for their needs.

Positives of Counseling and Mental Healthcare

There are more positives that mental health care can provide, not only to adults but to children as well. Studies have shown that going to therapy or clinical mental health counseling can provide school-age children with:4
  •  Better communication skills
  •  Improved anger management techniques
  •  Knowledge of neglect, abuse, or other issues going on at home
  •  Emotional support and coping skills
  •  Improvements in attention, academic achievement, and working with peers

How to Become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Clinical mental health counseling
Knowing where to begin is imperative if you or a loved one think you may want to become a mental health counselor. As stated above, you will have to get your bachelor’s degree in a psychology-related field and then also get your master’s. They do make programs specifically for clinical mental health counseling.
Then, there are multiple licenses you will need to obtain, most of which depend on your state or country of residence, as well as complete clinical fieldwork at a school, outpatient facility, hospital, or other related location. It’s best to check with your school and state board of certification to know what exact training you’ll need.

Get Help for Finding Clinical Mental Health Counselors at Boardwalk Recovery

If you or a loved one want to find a clinical mental health counselor, Boardwalk Recovery can help. We have licensed mental health professionals that can help you every step of the way, no matter if you’re struggling with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. We provide a vast array of therapies as well, ranging from 12-step programs to inpatient and outpatient programs. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.
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