What do Mental Health Counselors do?

Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. May help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging.

  • Maintain confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment.
  • Assess patients for risk of suicide attempts.
  • Encourage clients to express their feelings and discuss what is happening in their lives, helping them to develop insight into themselves or their relationships.
  • Collect information about clients through interviews, observation, or tests.
  • Counsel clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.
  • Guide clients in the development of skills or strategies for dealing with their problems.
  • Develop and implement treatment plans based on clinical experience and knowledge.
  • Fill out and maintain client-related paperwork, including federal- and state-mandated forms, client diagnostic records, and progress notes.
  • Prepare and maintain all required treatment records and reports.
  • Evaluate clients' physical or mental condition, based on review of client information.
  • Collaborate with other staff members to perform clinical assessments or develop treatment plans.
  • Refer patients, clients, or family members to community resources or to specialists as necessary.
  • Act as client advocates to coordinate required services or to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Modify treatment activities or approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting clients or patients.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling programs on clients' progress in resolving identified problems and moving towards defined objectives.
  • Discuss with individual patients their plans for life after leaving therapy.
  • Meet with families, probation officers, police, or other interested parties to exchange necessary information during the treatment process.
  • Plan, organize, or lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation, or social activities for clients.
  • Plan or conduct programs to prevent substance abuse or improve community health or counseling services.
  • Monitor clients' use of medications.
  • Learn about new developments in counseling by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, or establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.
  • Gather information about community mental health needs or resources that could be used in conjunction with therapy.
  • Supervise other counselors, social service staff, assistants, or graduate students.
  • Coordinate or direct employee workshops, courses, or training about mental health issues.

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Necessary Skills

  • Active Listening
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Service Orientation