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. . 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 convince them to use the counseling to improve areas of their life that they feel need to be worked on.
This discussion normally helps with those clients who are mandated to see me, and helps add a personal touch to the assessment process. The role of accountability for me as a counselor is to protect the rights of my client, but also to keep them from endangering themselves or others. Confidentiality is crucial in my role as a profession in this field. According to Erford (2010), “informed consent helps provide clients with the knowledge of their rights and responsibilities within the counseling relationship” (p. 36) Many times in my role as a mental counselor I have reached out to others for advice or direction. Anytime I feel unsure or confused I as to a certain client or a situation I have to always remember to be ethical to my profession. I do sometimes have to read the code of ethics on a regular basis even after years of practice. The situations that I encounter most are encountering a client outside the workplace and the client wanting to become friends. This can be difficult at times but I know I have to honor my professionalism and be accountable for what I do.
Another scenario that is quite common is that a client will discontinue medication that is necessary for them to take. This is difficult but I have to inform their prescribing physician of this occurrence. Ethically, I am required to do this when a client is not taking the medicine and they could cause harm to them or others. It depends on the situation and what drug is prescribed. Some drugs are not meant to just quit taking, other drugs are prescribed to keep a person in balance. Dealing with a client in a crisis situation is difficult.
One time I had a client whose parents were killed in a car accident and this client had no support to help deal with his grief. I made some calls and found several support groups for him to attend. I also found someone who was willing to attend with him to make this process easier. This turned out to be a very positive experience for my client. He is currently telling his story to reach out to others who have tragic experiences. My career is tough but the benefits are very rewarding to me as well. Caring about people and their well-being is why this field was what I was interested in.
Working with a variety of people each day is very challenging, and sometimes I have to put my beliefs and preservations aside to be able to assist my client. This can be a very challenging part of my profession. The most difficult part of my profession is being open to multiculturalism. According to Erford (2010) he states, “Often referred to as the “fourth force” in counseling (with psychoanalysis, behavior, and humanism being the first three), multiculturalism has gained much attention over the past several decades.
It remains a current issue for the field of counseling, however, because there is still much change and innovation needed” (p. 20). Adaptability is a trait that a counselor must possess. Every person is unique and deserves to be treated fairly. If I feel a sense of conflict with a client then I reach out to other professional for help even after all these years of practice. Reaching out for help is crucial in the counseling profession. I am a member of many professional organizations which provide me with various forms of insight that I can utilize if I feel the need to.
It is important that I tell you, as my interviewer, to become a part of the organizations that are available to you in this field. Professional counseling organizations have influenced great change. Erford (2010) states, “The American Counseling Association (ACA) speaks to and for professional counselors across all settings and specialties, making it the world’s largest association for counselors. It gives members the opportunity to stay in touch with issues across the entire counseling spectrum. It allows members to benefit from ideas and approaches from areas outside their specialty (p. 5-26).
According to the article titled, “Career Counseling Competencies,” “Career development professionals must only perform activities for which they “possess or have access to the necessary skills and resources for giving the kind of help that is needed (see NCDA and ACA Ethical Standards). “ (p. 2). Reflection Doing this interview was a very positive experience for me. Upon first learning that it was expected I felt excited to know that I was going to be able to use my time to interview someone who I hope to be someday, a licensed professional mental health counselor.
The man I interviewed was very encouraging and inspirational. I enjoyed listening to him and asking him questions about his daily routine. I gained some insight into several options that I could implement to help make my career activities more organized. I had never given much thought into how many clients I would actually be meeting with each day. This interview helped me to acquire some knowledge into how many clients I may be working with. It surprised me that on an average day I would only be meeting with five to possibly six clients.
I learned that if I begin my day by walking into my office at eight or nine a. m. , and leaving possibly an hour or so between clients to do paperwork, etc. that meeting with more than that number of clients would be an overload for myself in my workplace environment. Seeing this number of clients will allow me to give each client the time and attention they each deserve. What I learned from this interview that I did not learn from this course is that the knowledge that is taught in a book may not provide me with the means of dealing with a wide range of people.
My interviewee shared with me the fact that he sometimes finds it difficult to leave his work at work. He informed me that he finds certain situations very difficult to deal with and has had to refer the client elsewhere because of his own personal belief system. I learned that a lot of my career is going to also be from the heart. This interview was almost like having hands on experience for me. It was interesting to walk into a place of employment that will probably be very similar to my future workplace. I felt comfortable as I walked into her office and I felt her empathy and compassion for others.
I hope to be like her one day because I feel this is important as a counselor. I believe that counselors choose counseling as a career because they desire to help others. I could truly feel, and see, that she enjoyed her job. That was enlightening to me as someone who is planning on spending their career as a counselor as well. It was inspirational and I feel it provided me with the strength to become what I desire to be. What I understand better from the course as a result of doing the interview is the variety of people and issues I will encounter.
Listening to him express how he experiences working with others with depression, all the way to bi-polar and schizophrenic individuals caused me to think about how I will handle this. I am going to have patience and understanding and I have a future goal to increase my knowledge regarding these areas. I want to acquire as much knowledge as I can in my field of interest. My interviewee informed me that he is still learning even after twelve years of working with others. So, it helped give me confidence to know that I’m not always going to be expected to know everything, but yet I am willing to try.