What is counseling?

Professional Mental Health Counseling is the work of professional counselors who assist individuals, families, and groups with diverse needs through challenges in their life journeys. Counselors take a developmental perspective that people grow and change throughout their lives. Professional counselors understand principles of human development, psychology, mental health and change theories, and they establish effective helping relationships with people from diverse cultures. Counselors are skilled in the assessment of people and situations, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, and in the application of cognitive, affective, behavioral and systemic strategies to facilitate change.

Professional counselors practice in a variety of settings:

- Mental Health Clinics
- Human/Social Service Agencies
- Educational Settings
- Hospitals
- Businesses
- Private Practice
- Correctional Facilities

Professional counselors help clients explore their concerns and assist them in creating change. They work with clients to implement personal goals and/or advocate for system-wide changes. As professional helpers, counselors are respectful and responsive to clients and offer a safe place for people to share their experiences and to explore ways to cope.

Counselors are skilled in implementing therapeutic interventions designed to help clients challenged by a range of circumstances including: trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, unanticipated life events, interpersonal discord, social injustice, worksite disruption and career issues.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook offers more information on the profession of counseling, including a description of the types of work settings, job outlook, earnings, and required qualifications which covers information offered by the 2004-05 Edition. Additionally, the CACREP web site also provides helpful information. (Source: Lewis & Clark)

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