Group of young adults sitting around talking with man in glasses turned and smiling

You’ve likely heard of mental health counseling, but might not be sure of what it entails or whether it actually works. Mental health counseling is a broad term for the modality designed to treat mental illness, mental health concerns and symptoms that occur after experiencing traumatic events. The program can be tailored to a client’s specific needs, but in general, a mental health counseling session will consist of discussing your particular issues with a licensed professional and finding solutions together.

Does mental health counseling actually work?

The short answer: mental health counseling has been proven time and time again to be an incredibly effective treatment. Counseling meets you where you are and moves at your pace to address your unique situation and needs head-on.

Online mental health counseling has gained popularity (and necessity) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been shown to be just as effective. It is easier for some to discuss painful or scary topics over a video call rather than one-on-one in an office. Teletherapy also enables the democratization of mental health counseling, especially to those who could not otherwise afford it or take time off work for in-person sessions.

Mental health counseling is known to carry incredible benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Finding coping mechanisms for anxiety, depression, addiction and trauma
  • Confronting fears
  • Openly discussing challenges
  • Defining goals, both in the short and long term
  • Identifying triggers and behaviors that are interfering with recovery
  • Developing new skills, including conflict resolution and problem-solving
  • Improving interpersonal communication and confidence
  • Recognizing distorted, irrational or self-destructive thinking

How does mental health counseling work?

Mental health counseling is most effective when you find the type of treatment that works best for you. Just as there are many different types of therapy, there are a few different specialties within the mental health profession that can impact what your sessions look like. The most common mental health specialists include:

  • Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who, unlike others on the list, are authorized to prescribe medication. Psychiatrists are most often trained in psychotherapy or talk therapy, one of the most common approaches to mental health counseling.
  • Psychologists: While psychologists do not go to medical school, they are required to complete a doctoral program in order to practice, where they can earn either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Like psychiatrists, psychologists can also specialize in psychotherapy but more often choose to engage in cognitive behavioral therapy, psychological testing, and counseling.
  • Social workers: Social workers can choose to focus on specific areas within the specialty itself, including child welfare, healthcare, mental health, substance addiction and more. Social workers can be licensed counselors in any of these areas and bring a unique sociological perspective to the practice.
  • Licensed professional counselors: Counselors typically hold a master’s degree rather than a doctoral degree, and are instead required to have a specific number of hours in counseling experience, depending on their state’s licensing laws. Licensed professional counselors can choose to focus on and treat a wide variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, substance addiction, family issues and stress and emotional management.
  • Child and adolescent therapists: This type of therapist focuses solely on issues that primarily affect youths, ranging from behavioral to socioeconomic to developmental. A child and adolescent therapist is really best suited to treat younger patients, as therapists outside of this specialty may not holistically understand the totality of the issues they are treating.
  • Addiction counselors: Counselors specializing in addiction are best suited to serve those in inpatient and outpatient rehab programs by conducting individual and group sessions, creating roadmaps for addiction treatment, and serving as a resource throughout their clients’ entire recovery journey.

Rather than one-on-one counseling, an alternative form of mental health counseling is attending support groups with others in a similar position as you. These support groups are often led by mental health professionals, and they provide the opportunity to compare and discuss experiences with others who may understand what you are going through.

Just as each of us is unique and experience distinct challenges in life, there are several types of mental health professionals who hone their practice into specific areas. Mental health counseling works best when conducted by a specialist who intimately understands the issues they are treating.

Where can I get mental health counseling?

The mission of Silvermist Recovery is to provide comprehensive mental health services to children, teens, and adults. Managed patient care and top-tier service delivery are required when providing mental health counseling, and it is critical to find a provider who makes this a priority. Reach out now at (724)-268-4858 to speak to a Silvermist Recovery specialist on how you can personalize your mental health counseling to your needs.