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Mental Health Counseling
Mental health counseling may be part of behavior disorder treatment. Depending on the type of behavior disorder a psychologist or psychiatrist may suggest mental health counseling. This article helps define mental health, who may benefit from it, and where to find counseling.
What Is Mental Health?
Due to a variety of causes, including genetics, environment, stressful or traumatic experiences, and substance abuse, the balance of the psyche that we refer to as mental health can be disturbed. The wide range of mental health issues includes post-partum depression and other forms of depression, phobias and other anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other personality disorders, and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Behavior disorders such as eating disorders are also included.
Mental health issues can be treated by a variety of licensed professionals. Licensing requirements are determined by each state, and typically include requirements for age, moral character, education, experience, and passing an examination. Other requirements may be set by the state for the mental health professional to be able to carry out specific state-mandated programs. For example, in New York State, Mental Health Counselors are required to complete New-York-State-based training or coursework in identifying and reporting child abuse.
What Is Mental Health Counseling?
The term mental health counseling can be confusing because it has two meanings. First, it is used generically by lay people for any kind of assistance one might seek or receive to deal with a mental health issue. But within the health care professions, it is also used specifically to refer to care by a licensed mental health counselor.
Who Provides Mental Health Counseling?
Mental health counseling in the broad definition is provided by a range of health care professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and family therapists, as well as by the professionals known as mental health counselors, which is a separate profession with separate licensing requirements.
What Happens in Mental Health Counseling?
The first step in mental health counseling of any type is assessment and diagnosis. This may involve screenings, inventories, or other types of tests, or simply an interview. Depending on the findings, treatment may include a variety of different approaches. For behavior disorders—such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Tic disorders such as Tourette's Disorder—treatment will depend on several different factors:
• the age of the client: different approaches are more or less effective with children, adolescents, and adults
• whether there are coexisting issues: Disruptive Behavior Disorders are often found along with mood disorders and substance abuse, and many children who have a Disruptive Behavior Disorder also have AD/HD
• the family context: sometimes the family may need counseling because they are part of the problem, sometimes because they can contribute to the cure.
Therapeutic approaches may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or specialized forms of it, talk therapy, and/or medication (which can only be prescribed by a medical doctor, such as a psychiatrist). Individual, group, or family counseling may be used.
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