Psychopharmacology: Medicine and Mental Health

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Psychopharmacology is the study of psychotropic medications, which are used for mental disorders that have the ability to alter a person’s behavior and mental state of mind. Because of potentially serious side effects of many of these drugs, psychotropic medication should only be prescribed by qualified medical professionals who monitor the effects on patients. The purpose of week seven’s application assignment is to explain the boundaries that mental health counselors have in regards to recommending and prescribing medication, the counselor’s role in educating the client about medications, and who the counselor should refer the client to for psychotropic medications. King & Anderson (2004) points out that, “Because psychopharmacology has traditionally occupied the exclusive domain of medical practice, counselors may experience a sense of confusion and uncertainty when considering the more precise nature and associated limitations of their roles when supplementing psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy” (p. 330). Ingersoll (2000) further argues that there are “no clear prohibitions against a nonmedical mental health professional talking with clients about psychotropic medications.” However, section C.2.a of the ACA Code of Ethics (2005) states that, “Counselors practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience.”

According to Ingersoll & Brennan (2001), a counselor’s role is that of an ‘information broker’, who gathers, evaluates, and delivers information where necessary. Since discussing medication with a client may present legal and ethical concerns for the counselor, they are advised against offering specific recommendations concerning psychotropic medications. Although the counselor has boundaries, they should stay abreast on the client’s medication to assist the prescribing physician with monitoring the...
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