A Day in the Life of a Professional Mental Health Counselor
Preparing for my day as professional mental health counselor takes time. When I am leaving work at the end of a busy day, I always take the time to look at my schedule for the next day. The first thing I do to prepare for my job the next day is to look at my schedule to see with whom I will be meeting with, and the time schedule for my first and last appointment. I familiarize myself with the clients I will be working with, and pull each clients file to refresh myself on our last session. This is necessary for me to prepare for the appointment. It is important for me to be prepared and show my client that I am in tune to what is going on with them. I used to do all this first thing in the morning but I have found that it works better for me if I do it at the end of my day. My being prepared helps me to give the client my full attention and helps the client to gain confidence in my abilities. It helps personalize the session between me, as the counselor, and them as the client. Upon walking into my office each day, I arrive an hour before my first appointment is scheduled to arrive. This helps give me a chance to relax, and prepare myself for the session. It is also important for me that I meet with each client on time and end the session on time. This is how I show respect to those I am working with. Another rule of thumb is to always keep thirty minutes open between appointments. I work and eight hour day with an hour lunch, so normally I schedule four to five clients a day. My first scheduled appointment always begins at nine a.m. and my last one is scheduled for three p.m. This allows me to go to work at eight a.m. and be free from four to five p.m. before leaving, so that I can prepare for the next day. Each session is approximately one hour long in duration.
When someone asks me how being a mental health counselor is different from a social worker or psychologist my response would be that I feel that my career focuses more on individuals and mental health issues. I would define a social worker as someone whose primary focus is helping families, communities, or individuals, improve on areas of social functioning. I would define a psychologist as an individual who studies the mind and the brain. The two of these are different than my profession as a mental health counselor in that my job requires me to examine everything that causes mental conditions. The client is assessed, evaluated, and the goal is to be treated and the treatment is more focused on an individual.
Assessments can be used to help with the client case conceptualization as a means of gathering broad and general information regarding a particular client. Upon my first session with a potential client I want to have a general idea of what the client feels the issues are, and the client’s family structure. I also seek to see if they have a support network of people in their life. Finally, I use this assessment to inform me of the clients history, what the clients feels their issues are, and any prescriptions they are currently taking, or have taken in their past. This helps me to determine what the client’s needs may be, and if they have sought help from another source.
The theories that inform my practice are the Holistic approach and also the cognitive behavioral theory. I believe that a person has to have sound body, mind, and spirit in order to feel wholesome and complete. If a person is lacking belief in themselves, then my job is to find out what issues are causing this person to feel this way. Asking my client what they feel they need to work on usually helps immensely to assess my client. It also makes a difference as to whether the client is their voluntarily, or if they have been court ordered. I discuss, with all my clients, that anyone of us could use counseling, including myself. I normally can...
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