What Does A Counseling Psychologist Do?
Counseling psychologists are health service workers who are concerned with helping individuals across the lifespan deal with the various stresses and difficulties that they encounter in their lives. They strive to address the emotional, interpersonal and social challenges that people face as they interact with their family members, friends and co-workers. The goal of counseling psychologists is to help clients improve their outlook and sense of well-being and lighten feelings of hopelessness and despair. They also help clients resolve problematic situations.
Although well-versed in various therapeutic techniques to address those with psychological issues, counseling psychologists typically work with individuals who don’t have mental disorders but simply need help in coping and processing the struggles they are facing. Through their interventions and therapeutic techniques, they prevent individuals who are already burdened with tough situations from suffering nervous breakdowns or developing mental disorders.
In a typical day, counseling psychologists who run their own private practice can meet with clients of different ages. For example, they may help adolescents who are having difficulties in socializing and relating with other people in the first hour and help widows cope with their grief at losing their husbands the next. They may also meet with men and women who are trying to figure out why their career no longer satisfies them or help retirees transition into a more relaxed but productive lifestyle after decades of rushing to and from work and caring and rearing their children.
Counseling psychologists may also meet young individuals who are having gender identity issues and help them decipher where they belong. They also help those who are having issues with their self-esteem due to the recent loss of a body part after an accident. They also work with couples who are having problems with their relationship but still want to save it, especially when there are trust issues involved. Counseling psychologists may also be called upon to work with organizations to help management come up with programs that would encourage team building and enhance productivity. They may also deal individually with the employees in helping them address their issues so that they become more satisfied and happier in the office.
Depending on the situation, counseling psychologists employ a variety of procedures to help clients. For example, they may utilize assessment techniques and conduct standardized tests to determine personality traits and diagnose psychological disorders. Once they have determined the problem, they may conduct psychotherapy and counseling sessions with the client, the family or a group. While he is giving treatment, the counseling psychologist will also take down notes and record these so that they can monitor the progress of treatment and evaluate if it is effective. In disaster situations, counseling psychologists are called upon to perform crisis intervention and trauma management strategies. Intervention that is given immediately after the event will help the victims process the trauma that they had endured.
Counseling psychologists may also work outside the confines of their office and offer their expertise to the public in the form of programs or workshops. Through the lectures they give to various audiences on such topics as mental health, workplace issues and bullying in school, they help prevent or lessen the gravity of these problems. They may also give guidelines for the authorities to follow to address these concerns.
Counseling psychologists may also perform work in addition to regularly helping clients. Some of them may hold independent consulting jobs with various organizations whose operations may require the services of someone who understands human behavior. Other counseling psychologists teach college students in various colleges and universities. When they work as professors, psychologists also perform the tasks that teachers do—prepare lesson plans, facilitate classroom discussions, administer tests, grade students and guide those who are already preparing their dissertations. They may also provide clinical supervision to master’s or doctoral degree students who are doing their internships.
Although there is some overlap in the work of counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists, it should be noted that the latter handles clients who have serious mental disorders. If a counseling psychologist feels that a patient is better seen by a clinical psychologist, he will also make the necessary recommendations. Counseling psychologists may also coordinate with other members of the healthcare team as well as with other professionals, such as teachers, social workers and others, if it is needed in treating a client.