The Role and Life of a Mental Health Counsellor

It is an undoubtable fact that an individual always faces problems or unsolved questions that have inner or external origin. Thus, one overcomes the difficulties during personality development or while communicating and interacting within the society. People used to be supported by their relatives, friends or peers; however, the professional advice can present broader and impartial view on a problem. The main purpose of a mental health counsellor is to provide a client with meaningful and worthwhile knowledge in order to overcome the obstacles and troubles. Circumstances can differ from stress or anxiety to interpersonal and work site issues. While possessing skills and personal growth in psychology, theory of mental health and transformation, a sophisticated counsellor can assure the individual, family, and group help. The assistance also includes the practice with social and cultural variety or environmental challenges such as natural disasters. While applying ethical and compassionate skills, the mental health counsellor also works with LGBT clients, develops intervention plans, and investigates best strategies of communication with both individual and a group. Likewise, a specialist advocates the social and cultural justice as well as promotes professional growth and research.

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While developing confidential relations with a client, a mental health counsellor can fulfill his mission in a large variety of social spheres, such as clinics, educational establishments, social service institutions, businesses, and private practices. Professionals provide primary mental help and commonly use a talk therapy in order to enlighten the personal course in a case of the disorder. They often become part of a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, case managers, psychiatrists, and others. Moreover, the counsellors develop unique treatment plans and referrals, lead individual and group sessions of mental therapy as well as arrange preventative workshops.

The vocation of a clinical mental health counsellor slightly differs from that of a psychologist or social worker job. Despite the fact that they both use the same treatment techniques, the first one exerts advanced impact on a patient and integrates scientific approaches to a problem. A social worker, on the other hand, can not only help to overcome emotional problems, but also assists in search of community or government options in order to solve client's obstacles. The purpose of clinical mental consulting is to make the connection with a person using verbal and analytical skills aimed at revealing the occurred issues. A specialist combines traditional psychotherapy with a problem-solving approach.

Nowadays the labor market shows the increase of the mental health counsellor demand. Moreover, this vocation occurs to be a better alternative in many cases than the services of psychiatrists or psychologists that are more expensive. The trend refers to the 28 percent of employment growth during a present decade; that is approximately 36 thousand new work places. Moreover, the salary differs according to the sphere of occupation, geographical area, and amounts from $25 to $67 per hour.

A clinical mental health counsellor can have his own practice or work in the hospitals and community service agencies. Thus, a typical working day of the private practitioner begins with the examination of the clients list registered on that day. Usually, there can be several sessions of therapy with a person and the schedule is planned according to the respective visits. There can be gaps between the regular visitors for a single or primary consultation. A session lasts at least one hour. The counsellor listens attentively, makes notes, discusses the issues in a form of a dialogue using right techniques, and inquires a feedback. However, even slight or vague remark to a client's monologue can sometimes worth more than some scholastic measures.

There is a list of ethical and legal issues that a clinical mental health counsellor must follow. The sense of personal responsibility, confidentiality of provided information, and respect for the client's rights are the ground norms of practice. There are various codes of counselling. However, they comprise a number of common fundamental principles, such as preservation of the client's rights in relations to the other patients or professionals, maintenance of quality and reasonable therapy process. Due to a client-centered approach, the respective interactions must be based on justice, autonomy, beneficence, allegiance, and non-violence.

It is worth noting that there are basic theories guiding to the achievement of the positive consultation results. The therapy is based on strengths and emphasizes positive traits of the personal character as well as situations, which occur in the life of a client. Moreover, the knowledge of strong personal features can assist in a case of troubles. Another approach focuses on the existence or being and is aimed at evaluating the purpose of the person's life. Understanding the meaning of one's life and identity can diminish almost any obstacles and lead to harmonic social relationships.

The main priority of consulting is client's benefit as well as respecting him as a human being. Thus, any divisions of qualified treatment according to social status, national or cultural identity, and personal preferences are not acceptable. A client, as a human, is secured by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, the ethical code of mental health counsellor prohibits any personal infringements. Respect for a client's culture leads to the better comprehension and acceptance of a person, confidential and objective relationships during the therapy.

At the time of practice, one communicates with individuals of any age. Consequently, the approaches and techniques differ according to the client's demands and issues. Every period of the human growth has specific features and goals. The relations between counsellor and a person also depend on their age. For example, when a teenager is depressed, it is not acceptable to discuss the issues of marriage with him. However, it is better to suggest a person to search his own life course based on his traits of character and interests.

The case conceptualization provides the ability to assess the issue in a full measure by evaluating a session in different ways. Thus, notes and tape records can help reveal valuable information, which was not considered during the therapy session. The background knowledge of the client's life, his or her emotions, major themes, goals, obstacles, past, or present psychological conditions can help a person to understand the problem. Moreover, these measures assist the patient in establishing the trustful relations with the therapist.

The use of psychotropic medications can influence mood and behavior because they affect neurons, their connection, and hormones. They are used to decrease or remove mental and physical symptoms of mental illness of various types. Thus, a specific disorder has a list of medications that are suitable for a particular patient. However, one drug can have different impact and side effects on different people. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the patient's physical and mental conditions in order to refer to the best treatment and promote it after alternative therapy. For example, the antidepressants can show positive results only after a few days of the treatment, and some individuals have to take their medicines for several months in order to achieve active drug accumulation. There can be another example of cautious medication use. Thus, antipsychotic drug clozapine, despite its good therapeutic results, may develop the loss of the white blood cells, which comprise a part of immune system. The psychotropic medications are constantly developed in order to diminish the side effects.

Sometimes a mental health counsellor has to provide an emergent respond to a client crisis. The impact of traumatic effects on a person is usually prolonged in time. Moreover, the causes of disorder can vary from puberty accidents to a victim of a natural disaster. The crisis counselling does not last long and usually takes several weeks. The main focus is made on the emotional support and empathy with high attention to the client's present condition. Firstly, the problem has to be examined. The next stage is to obtain information about the present reactions of the patient, stress on the possible strengths, mental resources and demonstration of the disorder breaking ways. In addition, the important task is the emotional support referring to an active listening. The final step helps a person to develop skills using provided techniques to the traumatic response for the future.

The accountability in a clinical mental health counsellor vocation plays a major role because the process occurs with a living person. Corresponding emphasis on that issue increases when a specialist deals with mental sphere, which is a delicate and ascendant issue, especially referring the medication. The commitment to an ethical code of counselling and client's rights is the background of professional accountability. Likewise, the use of appropriate skills and educational growth as well as compassion and patience development are the basic principles in practice. Having achieved positive cooperation of both sides, a client receives the mood and health improvement, and a counsellor maintains a new experience to his vocation.

Sometimes a counsellor deals with the issues to which he does not have a qualified response. Therefore, one can seek another specialist's advice. Thus, the consultation and supervision provided by the third impartial side, ensures assessment of treatment process and the client protection on a ground of ethics. Supervision is more important procedure aimed at receiving the peer's response to a case leading, one's professional skills, or attitude to the client. Consequently, it has to improve the work according to the new observations provided by different parties. For example, the supervision of the entire case is its evaluation by one or several professionals for treatment improving and patient's protection. The consultation, on the other hand, is used to provide answers in the particular situation. Thus, it can be a single action and not a process as supervision. The resort to other professionals’ knowledge and experience can remove obstacles in a therapeutic process. For example, consultation may need the medication reference, or post traumatic intervention in case of sexual abuse.

The profession and client advocacy is a defense of rights from both sides for mutual beneficial interaction. The counsellor must protect not only the general rights of a client, but lead him through the entire procedure of professional relationships in order to achieve the best results. A specialist has to combine different opportunities or redirect a person to another expert. The purpose of the multidisciplinary interaction is to support the client's needs based on respect and justice. The professional advocacy is the process of vocation protection within the state authorities, organizations, and its development in order to fulfil the goals of counselling. The better environment and deeper access to a specialist will ensure better results for a client and general normalization of his state.

In order be able to implement the work properly and obtain positive results of a therapy, a mental health counsellor must be aware of his mental health. Being an example to a patient, he has to maintain permanent emotional balance, positive and compassionate attitude to all the situations, which occur in the life. However, at time of practice one works with different people who have different problems. The activities undertaken during the working day may also differ. Therefore, it is necessary to keep one's emotional strength in order to be able to support those who cannot. There are many techniques that prevent a professional burning-out. For example, sessions of art therapy help to reveal the question through the use of images and art supplies. Moreover, walking in the forest or field can deeply relax the mind of a person. Meeting peers or friends can also help lower the tension after a working day. Finally, the physical body maintenance will increase the activity and contribute to a general sense of pleasure.

There are several personal development issues that one needs during the counselling practice. Thus, self-awareness, balance between work and life, goal setting and focus on practice will help generate and maintain the personal skills and qualities. The basic issues required to support the client are empathy, conformity, respect, and positive regard. Professional growth contributes highly to the quality of mental health service. Thus, advanced training, supervision, and interaction with peers will help keep a practice at a high level.

A Day in the Life of a Clinical Mental Health Counsellor

My name is John Smith and I lead a private practice as a clinical mental health counsellor. Usually, I come to my office at ten o’clock in the morning. My working day starts from the scheduled examination of the visitors assigned by myself as regular clients, or those who were registered by phone. My assistant is a college student and his major subject is psychology. He is responsible for registration, updates web page, and fulfills the work of a secretary. Sometimes I ask his opinion about the case guidance in order to obtain the fresh and impartial view.

Next patient comes to the third therapeutic session. He has a schizophrenia-related disorder and needs medical treatment. I suggest him to take Risperidone but warn him that he should not drive until he adapts to the drug. The session with this client is aimed to increase self-awareness and teaching skills of confidential relationships with others.

Next patient who comes after fifteen-minute break complaining of slight depression. Her fifth session showed positive results, and I think that she is on the way to recovery. We are talking about her common emotional and behavioral reactions to the surrounding and close people. I try to focus on the strong personal sides of her character development and goals setting for long-term mental health.

At three p.m. I have a visit of an unknown Afro-American woman telling that she has problems with her mother, her boss, and money. She reveals symptoms of light anxiety and emotional stress. I tell her that I do not supply people with job or accommodation and give her the phone number and address of a social agency that provides such services.

The working day is finishing, but I received a phone call. It was a teenager’s voice. She was crying and explaining that she was attacked by a stranger who intended to rape her. The girl was in deep stress and suffered from fear, offence, and shame. I provided a phone emergency counselling responsible for the stress symptoms reduction and empathetic support. I told her that she could call or come here if she wanted.

Before leaving the office, I reviewed my notes, client's list for tomorrow, and gave some instructions to my assistant. I had to rest and prepare for the next day.


It should be noted that during the personal communication with a practitioner, the theory sometimes differs from a real practice. Thus, the books can not contain the variety of situations faced by different people that a specialist may deal with at the time of therapeutic process. The high level of chance and sometimes unpredictable human behavioral factors can play major role in the case assistance.

The theoretical and practical knowledge must proceed in connection with the mutual benefit. However, the main value is a human mental health and life; therefore, the corrections must be promoted for the success in every particular situation. Theory, in this case, will enlarge the base with new knowledge that can be implemented in interactive ways.

Personal qualities and skills are the leading factors of a beneficial practice for both a specialist and a client. Constant training for these skills development will provide better results of a treatment that is the main purpose of a counsellor.

The accountability and advocacy of the client's rights gives a right to support and guide him in case of mental disorder. The comprehension that a mental health is a main value in life and that specialist can enhance or easily harm this delicate individual sphere, increases the sense of responsibility for every action.

The vocation of clinical mental health counsellor can make a significant impact on the personality. Such skills as empathy, respect, patience, adherence to professional goals and ethical values, strength of self-esteem and self-development are not only valuable in the professional practice, but also influence the personality.

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