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Should You Go to Counseling?

When you hear the word “counselor,” you might think a variety of mental health professionals. A counselor is not to be confused with a councilor, who is a public official who serves on a panel. There are many types of counselors. There are guidance counselors who help children and teenagers at school with academic or social issues; there are marriage counselors who guide people through relationship problems or help couples peacefully separate. There are different kinds of counselors, and they serve people with varying needs. Here are some types of counseling that help people.

Marriage or couples counselors focus on helping their clients work through relationship issues. Some common problems that couples struggle with are communication, intimacy, mental health issues, or co-dependency. Sometimes there are more severe issues to address, such as trauma or substance abuse. Marriage or couples counselors are educated on these issues and can provide resources to the couple if they can’t fix the problems in counseling.

The treatment focuses on developing a healthy dynamic between the two partners. There are often differences of opinion in how to handle these relationship issues, but a competent counselor will be able to mediate between the couple and help partners see each other’s point of view.

Marriage or couples counselors pay close attention to the behaviors of their clients. They can identify better and solve the issues that partners face after they make close observations of their client’s actions. They watch how the couple interacts with each other. After seeing the dynamic between the two, the counselor can create a plan to assist the couple in building a healthier relationship foundation.

Mental health counselors are versatile. They can help individual people, couples, or even groups of people. They specialize in assisting people with managing issues such as mood disorders. A mental health counselor can treat a variety of conditions, ranging from clinical depression to PTSD. They’re also often well versed in helping people with personality disorders.

Depending on what their area of expertise is, they might practice behavioral therapy such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), psychoanalysis, or family systems therapy. Other times, “eclectic” counselors integrate several different kinds of treatments into their sessions, rather than focusing on one type.

Some counselors specialize in working with people who have disabilities. Those disabilities might be physical or mental-health related. These types of counselors often help clients apply for and get jobs they have qualifications to perform. Those professionals are called vocational rehabilitation counselors.

Rehabilitation counselors (including vocational ones) work in diverse locations such as government offices, nonprofit organizations or schools. They’re a part of substance abuse programs sometimes referred to as rehabilitation facilities.

One challenge with entering a substance abuse program is that there might be a gap of time in a client’s resume. Rehabilitation counselors can help explain and account for this block of time and get their clients into a job. Vocational rehabilitation counselors can help clients realize their strengths and apply them to a position where they excel.

Counselors should be empathetic and help people. Whether that’s in a residential drug treatment center or private practice, the goal is the same. Counselors want their clients to live fuller lives. Find out what kind of counselor is right for you and start getting the help that you need.

Getty image by PongMoj.

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