What does a Mental Health Counselor 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.

Jobs Roles

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