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A mental health counsellor is someone who helps people manage or overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives. They work in a variety of settings, such as private practice and mental health centres.
Mental health counsellors typically do the following:
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. 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.
Mental health counsellors work in variety of settings, such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, and colleges. They also work in private practice and in employee assistance programs (EAPs), which are mental health programs that some employers provide to help employees deal with personal problems.
Mental health counsellors generally work full time. Because counselling sessions are scheduled to accommodate clients who may have job or family responsibilities, some counsellors work evenings and weekends.
A master’s degree in counselling is required. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s-level program.
Counselling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counselling strategies. Specific programs, such as marriage and family therapy programs, teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how they affect mental and emotional disorders. Both programs typically require a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.
Mental health counsellors must be licensed. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.