Kuhathaas, Varenya - Mental Health Counselor

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[edit] Job Title (Kuhathaas, Varenya)

Mental Health Counselor

[edit] General Overview

A mental health counselor is someone who helps an individual achieve personal goals, diagnoses and treats disorders, and helps the individual be able to lead a productive life. They often help the individual through difficult experiences and provide skills and attitudes to bring about change in their life [1].They provide assistance to avoid implications that can come about as a result of mental illness that goes untreated. Mental health workers operate as part of a team that includes social workers, case managers, and any other discipline that is involved in the client's welfare [1].

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

There are many different duties and responsibilities that go along with being a mental health counselor which vary according to the organization one is employed by. First and foremost, one must maintain confidentiality about clients' information and treatment. They must be able to get clients to discuss their feelings and help them develop insight [2].They must be able to help clients develop strategies to deal with their problems and counsel individuals to be able to overcome any changes in their life. They prepare client records and reports and collect this information through observations and interviews. They are the client's advocates and should be able to implement treatment plans for their clients based on their clinical experience [2]. They may have to meet with other groups that are involved in their client's life to provide any necessary information. They will have to provide resources to other community groups or specialists as they see fit [2]. They may have to go beyond their client and counsel the client's family members. They must evaluate the treatment's effectiveness in terms of how the client seems to be progressing and how the client resolves the identified problems in their lives [2]. They must be able to plan social and recreational activities for their client according to whatever problem they may be suffering from. Duties include modifying any activities to comply with the client's current status to improve their condition [2]. As a professional, they must be able to keep up with the current literature and keep in contact with other social service agencies. They must have the ability to gather information from other mental health resources that is to be used in conjunction with their counseling. They have to monitor their client's medications and discuss life after therapy with the client [2]. As a mental health counselor, they must supervise other counselors and staff, plan prevention programs and implement them in their community, and be able to hold courses on various mental health issues they may have seen in their clinical experience [2].

[edit] Typical Workday

There are many social institutions that employ mental health workers and they are all under different names in various institutions. Hospitals, social services, the Mental Health Association, educational institutions, and jails all employ mental health counselors. There is no standard classification for mental health counselors, rather, they are very similar positions that carry different titles[3]. The hours of the job depend largely on where the individual works. Some jobs require the counselor to be part-time, full-time, or even an on-call basis. Their clients include a large variety of the population. Again, it depends on where they are employed for the clientele to be seen. They may work with the Aboriginal community, with individuals in need of rehabilitation, people in crisis, individuals with mental health issues, or individuals in need of social services[3]. The technology they require is very minimal. They usually only require office equipment (eg. a computer) to keep track of client information [4].

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

It is required that mental health counselors have a degree in psychology or child and youth studies. A master's degree is required for the stream of counseling that one may wish to pursue (eg. working with families, children, or addicts)[1]. They will need to receive training from the organization they are providing services for, as each organization has a different set of rules or ethics they may follow. In Canada, one must be certified by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. This requires undergoing psychological testing and taking an exam. One must also be under the supervision of an approved clinician before becoming a full member [5].This is a profession that requires continuous education and training to keep up with the rapidly changing standards of the mental health profession. Opportunities for advancement are available if one wishes to pursue a doctorate degree in counselling [1].

[edit] Related Skills, Interests, and Abilities

A mental health worker must have an open mind about diversity and the ability to work effectively with individuals from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, etc. One must be able to provide an environment that allows the client to discuss freely anything that they may want to discuss with you. Mental health counselors must possess compassion, empathy, and a desire to help[1]. Mental health counselors must also be able to be objective and be able to assess the problem from various perspectives, to provide the best care for their client. Communication skills are necessary for a mental health counselor because they must be able to ask insightful questions and listen attentively to the clients' answers. They must be able to produce clear, precise written reports on the client [6]. A mental health counselor must be perceptive of others' behavior, oriented to find ways to help others, think critically about how to approach problems, make tough decisions, self-monitor, and monitor others [4]. Problem solving and being able to critically analyze the situation will provide the counselor with the ability to understand the client's situation. This will also allow the counselor to develop a course of action that can bring resolutions for the client. Organizational skills are also vital to being a mental health counselor because they have to be able to plan, develop, and implement counseling programs [6]

[edit] Relevance to Psychology Undergraduate Degree

A course in lifespan development may be useful in this career because it can provide insight into the developmental milestones that we must achieve and what happens when one does not achieve these milestones. A course in cognition may be useful to provide insight into the way that one might think about themselves and their problems. Personality and individual differences may be a useful course because as a mental health counselor, one will be working with a variety of different individuals. Abnormal psychology may be useful to diagnose disorders in individuals and provide clients with treatment to their illnesses. A course in brain and behavior may be useful to understand what certain types of chemicals and medications will do to the individual. As a mental health counselor, one must be able to provide information about medications for their clients and what the potential side effects might be. There are many types of theories that are used in regards to counseling. It largely depends on the client’s needs and the issue the client is struggling with. In terms of counseling theory, it asserts that the problems that one has an adult stems from ineffective relationships or thoughts. Counseling theory uses CBT and reality therapy to tackle issues of ineffective thoughts or issues in the client’s life. For example, CBT focuses on changing how one reacts to a situation. The counselor may try to make the client understand that their distress may be a combination of how the individual perceives the even. The counselor may help the client evaluate their reaction and beliefs to the event. Reality therapy will be utilized by the counselor to help the client focus on the present and to not make excuses [7]. Learning theories may be utilized by mental health counselors to help their client realize that their distress may be coming from exposure to rewards and punishments. A counselor may be inclined to use classical conditioning and operant conditioning with a client who may be suffering from an addiction. A counselor may use social learning theory to help a child with conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder.Therefore, it is absolutely vital for a mental health counselor to have a background in psychology because it will be the basis on how the counselor will evaluate the client, understand the client’s problem, apply psychological theories, and implement an effective intervention that coincides with the client’s needs and issues.

[edit] Salary Potential

Average yearly salary based on experience (Mental Health Counselor Salary, 2015)
Average yearly salary based on experience (Mental Health Counselor Salary, 2015)

A mental health counselor earns an average salary of $50,255 per year. It can range anywhere from $38,000 to $68,000 [8]. There is such a large range in the salary for a mental health counselor because it is largely determined by experience. This graph shows that an individual with less than two years of experience makes around $43,000. An individual with 12 years of experience or more will make around $60,000 [8]. There is also a difference in salary that is determined by the education one possesses. For example, an individual with just a diploma will have an average monthly salary of $3,083. An individual with a master's degree might have an average monthly salary of $10,000.[9].

[edit] Job Outlook

The projected demand for mental health counselors is expected to grow by 29% between 2012-2022. This is largely because insurance companies are now offering coverage for mental health counseling services [1]. There is also a large projected increase because of new research around mental health and the importance of maintaining one's mental health. It has been estimated that two million more individuals will need mental health treatment in 2030 compared to the numbers from this year [10].There is also a lot of pressure for increasing mental health services because of the aging population and the high rates of mental disorders among the Canadian population, in general [10].

[edit] To Know More

This link provides further information on the educational requirements to become a mental health counselor. It also provides a list of Canadian universities that offer bachelor and master's programs to become accredited as a mental health counselor.

This link provides information on what types of courses and what one will expect to study while becoming a mental health counselor.

This link provides further expansion on the related job duties and responsibilities for mental health counselors.

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Maurer, S. (1999). How to Become a Mental Health Counselor. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.innerbody.com/careers-in-health/how-to-become-mental-healthcounselor.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Career Planner (1997). Job Duties and Tasks for: "Mental Health Counselor." Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://job-descriptions.careerplanner.com/Mental-HealthCounselors.cfm
  3. 3.0 3.1 Community Mental Health Careers. (2013). Careers. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.workinginmentalhealth.ca/forms/careers.aspx
  4. 4.0 4.1 O*Net Online (2013). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1014.00
  5. Certification (CCC) (2015). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://ccpa-accp.ca/en/memberbenfits/certification
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tattrie, J. (2011, November 30). What type of person makes a good counsellor? | Career Bear. Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://careerbear.com/counsellor/article/what-type-of-person-makes-a-good-counsellor
  7. Snipes, D. (2009, November 20). Counseling Theories. Retrieved March 26, 2015, from http://www.slideshare.net/DrSnipes/counseling-theories
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mental Health Counselor Salary (2015). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Mental_Health_Counselor/Salary.
  9. Stamm, J. (2003). Mental Health Counseling Training Programs and Requirements. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://educationportal.com/mental_health_counseling_training.html
  10. 10.0 10.1 Campbell, D. (2013). Mental Health Treatment is Stretching Services to the Limit. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/23/mentally-illstretching-services-limit
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