Mental health counselors work with patients every step of the way in the treatment of their mental health issues. At the beginning of treatment process, they interview and observe patients from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to diagnose them. They then design a specialized treatment plan that may involve individual or group therapy sessions. Additionally, they maintain accurate records of any treatment the patient undergoes. Many who choose this profession find a great deal of fulfillment in helping people cope with and overcome their problems.
People looking to pursue this line of work must earn bachelor's or master's degree in counseling, psychology, social work, or another related field. They must also earn and maintain a license to practice psychotherapy. Experience working in clinical counseling is preferred, and certain positions require experience working with a certain demographic (e.g. children, the elderly, etc.). Those who choose this career path generally work in hospitals or standalone clinics, but some may travel to other shelters and facilities.
Mental health counselors must be compassionate and empathetic in listening to their patients' issues and concerns. It is also important that they be trustworthy with their patients' confidential medical information. Written communication skills are crucial for record-keeping purposes, and the counselor must also make sure to keep open lines of communication between the patient and all healthcare professionals involved in treatment. Difficult situations may arise during patient treatment, so the counselor needs to maintain a level head in order to handle these issues effectively and responsibly.
Mental Health Counselor Tasks
- Design and implement treatment plans.
- Assesses patient mental status and problems through interviews and observations.
- Maintain accurate required documentation of patient care.
- Counsel clients to promote optimal mental health, individually and in group sessions.