May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States since 1949. It is a month dedicated to helping people realize that our psychological health is an important part of our physical health, productivity, happiness, and the health of our communities. This movement has also helped people understand their symptoms, receive treatment, and, perhaps crucially, eradicate the stigma that leaves so many suffering in silence.
There are numerous approaches to treating a mental health condition, depending on preference, persistence, type, and severity. And mental health counseling represents one such service. Mental health counseling provided by trained professionals can profoundly impact the lives of individuals, families, and communities for the better.
What Is a Mental Health Disorder?
Mental health disorders affect people of all ages and backgrounds. They are widespread, recurrent, and complicated, but they are treatable, and many people do go on to recuperate by receiving mental health services.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to assist psychiatrists and other mental healthcare providers in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. According to the DSM-5, mental health disorders are symptoms that include clinically significant disturbance in how a person thinks, feels, or behaves. These disturbances are caused by a problem in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes that support mental functioning.
Mental health disorders frequently cause severe discomfort or make it difficult to perform important tasks like work, school, or socializing. A decline in a person’s ability to function daily due to these changes is required before mental health professionals can diagnose the disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that nearly one in five adults in the U.S. struggles with a mental illness, yet only half of them ever receive the treatment they need.
What Is Mental Health Counseling?
Utilizing various therapeutic techniques, A mental health counselor can help a person manage stress, chronic anxiety, depression, and other difficult issues by promoting a healthy lifestyle, identifying personal stressors and levels of functioning, and preserving or restoring a patient’s mental well-being.
A mental health counselor is qualified to conduct individual and group counseling sessions, but they cannot prescribe medications. However, they can collaborate with other medical professionals, such as psychiatrists or a primary care provider, to provide comprehensive, holistic care.
What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do?
Numerous people experience mental illness. And with 26% of Americans being diagnosed with psychological conditions each year, disorders like anxiety and depression have become quite common. However, because even mild mental illness can have a detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life, getting effective therapy and help is critical. And here is where a mental health counselor can be of assistance.
A mental health counselor may be responsible for the following tasks:
- Assessing and identifying patients with psychological distress.
- Providing patients with psychotherapy.
- Speaking to patients about their feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
- Facilitating family group sessions.
- Setting goals with patients, developing a treatment strategy, and gaining insight via treatment.
- Working with patients to identify situations, habits, and ideas that obstruct their recovery and wellness.
- Examining social factors that may impact a patient’s psychological health, including peer pressure, bullying, substance abuse, prejudice, work stress, financial difficulties, and health problems.
- Referring patients to other mental health care professionals and community resources such as social services, job services, and support groups.
Individual needs are often viewed through a humanistic lens during mental health counseling. Rather than focusing on dysfunction, counselors frequently perceive issues as typical reactions to developmental changes or difficulty navigating various life transitions. As a result, counselors may focus on personal growth by assisting you in developing the skills and coping capacities necessary to deal with such life changes and stages properly.
Common Therapies Used by Mental Health Counselors
Several widely used evidence-based therapies have proven extremely effective in addressing mental health concerns. They are used in almost every treatment program that employs experienced, trained counselors. These therapies include the following:
- Individual Therapy – Also known as psychotherapy, is a collaborative process between the counselor and the patient. A licensed therapist can assist in identifying the root causes of your thoughts and behaviors and help make positive lifestyle changes.
- Group Therapy – is typically facilitated by a counselor and provides an atmosphere of emotional safety connecting people who may be experiencing similar challenges. Group members can often learn and receive support from both the counselor and each other by utilizing the dynamics of the group to create assimilation and togetherness against a problem. The most important benefit of group therapy is that it helps patients realize they are not alone in their struggles and empower a sense of community among its members.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – is a type of talk therapy that challenges irrational thoughts based on emotional beliefs. It’s an effective, goal-oriented, short-term treatment and straightforward approach to therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to help individuals modify their thought processes and behaviors and improve their quality of life.
- Family Counseling – Family therapy is another form of psychological counseling that helps family members improve their communication skills and resolve conflicts. This type of therapy can help family members give voice to issues, gain an understanding of each other and how the issue impacts them as a unit, and create plans to resolve issues.
- Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) – uses strategies of ” acceptance” and “change.” A counselor accepts you just as you are and also acknowledges the need for change in order for you to recover, move forward, and reach your personal goals. It guides individuals to live in the present moment, develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress, regulate their emotions, and improve interpersonal relationships.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – is a form of therapy that can help people heal after distressing or traumatic events. EMDR uses bilateral brain activity to “store” traumatic memories in a safe space. EMDR removes the block in your brain, which keeps patients stuck in fight or flight mode.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI) – is a person-centered strategy. It is used to elicit patient motivation to change a specific negative behavior. MI engages clients, elicits change talk, and evokes patient motivation to make positive changes.
What Are the Benefits of Counseling?
There are many benefits to seeking personal or psychological counseling. Some of the most common benefits include:
- Improved communication and interpersonal skills
- Capability to change self-defeating behaviors and habits
- More suitable expression and management of emotions through a compassionate environment
- Relief from anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric conditions
- Improved self-acceptance and self-esteem
- Greater confidence and decision-making skills
- Improved abilities for problem-solving and conflict resolution
- Ability to manage stress more effectively
The Importance of Counseling Services
Mental health counseling services provide an important and necessary system for people who want to recover from a wide range of mental health issues. Sometimes, just talking about your problem helps you gain a different perspective. And a licensed clinician can ask certain questions to help you discover a solution independently. This can help you develop the tools you need to find solutions outside of counseling.
By employing a holistic approach to mental health, many counseling services offer confidential, individual, and group services to their patients and outreach programs to the broader community. Ultimately, counseling empowers individuals to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Futures Recovery Healthcare offers a safe, non-judgmental treatment program for those with mental health conditions. Individual therapy by licensed clinicians, family therapy, case management support, group therapy, and recreational activities are provided to assist individuals in identifying stressors and triggers, working on personal and family issues, developing long-lasting recovery plans, fostering healthy social skills, enhancing overall wellness and self-care, and much more.
Futures utilizes clinical, medical, wellness services and psychiatric therapies and support to treat depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, bipolar, and associated disorders. Our multidisciplinary team approach enables patients to obtain comprehensive care and support. Our goal is to help our patients overcome their struggles and support them through their journey to recovery.