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Mental health counselors work to assist those struggling with a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal feelings, grief, and stress. While these counselors are generally trained to handle a broad spectrum of mental health issues, many of them choose to specialize in a specific issue or group of issues or to work with a particular age group. Some of the most common mental health counselor jobs include private practice counseling, psychiatric facility counseling, youth counseling, and geriatric counseling.
Private practice counseling is one of the most prevalent mental health counselor jobs. This type of counselor maintains an office to which her clients come for sessions. She may see clients with many different kinds of mental health issues or she may restrict her practice to certain issues, such as eating disorders or social anxiety. During sessions, she assists her clients in reflecting on the causes and impact of their issues and helps them develop healthy strategies for addressing those issues in the future. She may sometimes conduct sessions which include both her client and the client’s loved ones, who can, with the counselor’s guidance, give the client further insight into the nature of his issues.
Some mental health counselor jobs are based at psychiatric facilities. In this type of position, the counselor typically works with facility residents who are battling a serious psychiatric crisis, such as attempted suicide. Often, her counseling work takes the form of group sessions in which clients are encouraged to share insights about their health issues with their fellow residents. She generally works in coordination with staff psychiatrists and psychologists to create a multi-dimensional treatment approach for each resident.
Other mental health counselor jobs revolve strictly around treating children and teenagers. These young clients may suffer from many different mental health issues, including self-esteem problems and anxiety caused by family transitions like divorce. Often, a youth counselor is based at an elementary or high school. The counselor may conduct annual sessions with each student at the school, during which she checks for indications of mental health difficulties. Should she identify issues in any of these students, she may go on to hold regular sessions with them.
Geriatric counselors work with clients suffering from mental health issues that are associated with aging. This type of counselor is often employed by an elderly care facility. She may see her clients one on one or may oversee group counseling sessions. Common issues addressed in geriatric counseling include the difficult emotions that can accompany the loss of one’s contemporaries, increasingly limited mobility, or the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s. Another area frequently confronted in geriatric counseling sessions is fear of death.
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