Mental health counsellors typically do the following:
- Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
- Help clients process their reactions and adjust to changes in their life, such as divorce or layoffs
- Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
- Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behaviour or cope with difficult situations
- Coordinate treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers
- Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities.
Mental health counsellors use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioural therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, cognitive behavioural therapy teaches clients to eliminate unwanted or damaging behaviours and replace them with more productive ones.
Some disorders can be overcome, but others need to be managed. In these cases, mental health counsellors help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.
Mental health counsellors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children.
Mental health counsellors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues, and relationship problems.
Some mental health counsellors work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.