BEHAVIORAL HEALTH COUNSELOR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Useful Traits Of Primary Care Behavioral Health Counselors
Behavioral health counselors must be able to function in the face-paced primary care environment. To be effective, they should: * be flexible enough to deal with noise, frequent interruptions, and constant changes in scheduling; * be able to offer brief, targeted interventions usually lasting less than 30 minutes; * be comfortable with short-term counseling, often lasting less than eight visits; * function well in a team-approach accept the fact that they are not in charge of the clients’ care; * be behaviorally, rather than personality, focused;
* be able to perform consultations and give provider feedback “on the fly”; * be able to effectively communicate and interact with primary care providers. Therapists used to more traditional, long-term, in-depth psychotherapy approaches may experience a “culture shock” in the primary care environment and may need to make significant adjustments in their therapeutic style and way of thinking to be effective in this milieu. Back to top
Some Desirable Skill Sets For Behavioral Health Counselors
(based in part on Integrated Behavioral Health Care, A Guide to Effective Intervention by William O’Donohue, 2006): * proficiency in the identification and treatment of mental disorders; * ability to think in terms of population management, addressing a large clientele in the most efficient ways possible, using Approaches like stepped care and group psychotherapy; * knowledge of evidence-based behavioral assessments and interventions relevant to medical conditions, e.g., disease management; treatment adherence; and lifestyle change; * ability to make quick and accurate clinical assessments; * care-management skills and knowledge of local resources for outside referrals; * skill in targeted, brief psychotherapy and in running group sessions; * knowledge of basic physiology, psychopharmacology and medical terminology; * familiarity with the stepped care model (clients move along different levels of intervention depending on past responses); * ability to document services in a way that is useful both to the primary care provider and to management for quality-improvement services; * consultation liaison skills.
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Goals Of Primary Care Behavioral Health Counselors
(taken from Open Door Community Health Center’s Behavioral Health Program, 2005) Taken as a whole, the primary behavioral health care model is designed to increase the total proportion of eligible patients that receive appropriate mental and behavioral health services. To do this, the behavioral health counselor may assist primary care providers in: * Recognition and treatment of mental disorders and psychosocial problems; * Early detection of “at risk” clients, with the aim of preventing further psychological or physical deterioration; * Prevention of relapse or morbidity in conditions that tend to recur over time; * Prevention and management of addiction to pain medicine or tranquilizers; * Prevention and management of work and/or functional disability; * Obtaining quality clinical outcomes with high prevalence mental disorders; * Efficient and effective treatment and management of clients with chronic emotional and/or health problems; * Management of clients who use medical visits to obtain needed social support; * Improving the quality of primary care provider interventions without the aid of behavioral health consultation; * Efficiently moving clients into appropriate mental health specialty care when indicated. Back to top
Common Job Functions Of Primary Care Behavioral Health Counselors The following is, in part, adapted from the sample job description included in “Providing Behavioral Health Services in a Community Center Setting” promulgated by the Washington Association of Migrant and...
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