Professional counseling is an important medical practice to remedy many types of issues a person can have. Licensed counselors work independently or as a part of an organization, such as a school or a hospital. At their core, counselors are experts at listening and understanding other people’s problems in a wide range of fields, including relationships, mental or physical health, and even one’s habits. They can make people feel secure, safe and heard, promoting a fruitful atmosphere for growth. Sessions can be organized with a group of people, or on an individual basis, depending on the desires and needs of participants.
Counseling empowers people, giving them the necessary tools to take control of their own life and change for the better. Professionals of the field can specialize in a specific demographic, group, or type of individual. Visiting a counselor can help individuals improve their general wellbeing, attain success or better resolve their day-to-day issues. For the purposes of this discussion, the work of two particular types of counseling will be examined – mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling. Mental health assistance remains among one of the most frequently required services for counselors, as many individuals need professional help to face their internal struggles. Similarly, substance abuse issues can present a significant challenge, warranting the presence of a professional. The main assertion of the work is that counselors act within their capacity to aid vulnerable groups, using emergent technology and expertise in the effort of supporting others. In addition, future opportunities for growth in the field will be covered.
Importance of Counseling
Counseling, as a social support resource, covers the need to safeguard and empower vulnerable people. Giving many an outlet for their feelings and a sense of community, the practice encourages self-actualization, autonomy, choice and freedom for every participant. Creating opportunities for those that might not have received them before, counselors impart their knowledge onto others.
Methods of Counseling
Mental Health Issues
There are many approaches towards providing mental health counseling. Depending on the demographic, a counselor has to adjust their approaches accordingly, and adopt strategies best suited for fulfilling their goals. For example, elderly people may receive counseling through nursing professionals on a home visit basis, accommodating their limited movement capacity and a need for personal care. Similarly, health workers within a particular community can become an effective way to address mental health issues. According to the research by Myers (2019), it may be feasible to treat common mental disorders with a use of a community worker counseling. Alternatively, approaches such as group therapy become a convenient and effective way to help many individuals (American Psychological Association, 2019). People participating in this form of treatment can help each other feel more at ease with their problems, while also sharing solutions toward the commonly experienced problems. A sense of perspective, increased diversity, and the creation of a support network are among the many benefits of group mental health therapy.
Counseling for substance abuse often includes specific techniques and approaches toward protecting the individual, stopping the influence of harmful substances, and promoting maintained resilience. Necessary solutions, such as detoxification form the crux of stopping substance use, while counseling and therapy helps to promote stability (“Detox is not enough: How treatment and counseling support a full recovery,” 2018). The practice gives individuals the sense of a shared community when they need it most (“Detox is not enough: How treatment and counseling support a full recovery,” 2018). Maintaining sobriety throughout the treatment process and responding positively to treatment can be difficult without the additional support of counselling apporaches. Substance abuse counseling professionals aid people at the time they are most likely to relapse, working through one’s insecurities and promoting healthier habits. Among the particular pathways for working with substance abuse victims, cognitive behavioral therapy. The approach suggests that there is a tangible connection between the way people feel and their behaviors. Therefore, changing one’s perception of a subject through cognitive behavior theory can be conductive towards combatting substance abuse (“Substance abuse counseling techniques,” n.d.). This method is capable of increasing the effectiveness of the treatment process, as it reduces the occurrence of problematic behavior. Discussing potential problems, devising effective responses and applying good coping strategies become the central point for maintained substance-free life.
Other types of therapies include dialectical behavior therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and motivational therapy. The first in this list is an approach focused on accepting one’s negative feelings, in an effort to understand and overcome them (“Substance abuse counseling techniques,” n.d.). In this context, acceptance does not refer to embracing suicidal thoughts or encouraging them, but instead meeting them with kindness and understanding. Relaxation techniques play a vital role in that, allowing clients to have their minds at ease. Reprocessing, then, aids clients in better reacting to traumatic events, which are often the root cause of substance abuse behaviors and bad coping mechanisms (“Substance abuse counseling techniques,” n.d.). Specific eye movements serve as a distraction when patients relive their trauma, making it easier to experience. The last of the mentioned solutions, motivational therapy, puts the counselor in a supportive role, giving their clients the confidence to maintain a sober lifestyle or enact change. Furthermore, future planning and goal setting are a vital part of the process. Avoiding relapse, or preparing clients to properly respond to it, are among the key outcomes of counseling. Many other types of therapies and approaches exist in order to promote client’s mental wellbeing, focusing on the various aspects of addiction.
Clients and Vulnerable Groups
Counselors receive all kinds of clients on a daily basis. Varying in age, identity, status, and life conditions, every person must be treated with acceptance, dignity and kindness. However, the need for counseling varies among the population. Certain groups within society are systemically more likely to experience mental health issues, or suffer from substance abuse. A difference in circumstance, income, or location plays a large role in one’s need for counseling. Similarly, people’s access to support can differ, determining the kinds of people that a professional tends to. Counselors can often recognize emergent social tendencies and adjust their strategies accordingly.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health problems are experienced by millions of people all across the globe. Depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, and many other mental problems emerge as a result of one’s upbringing, relationship with society, or health. While all individuals facing mental health struggles should be supported through a loving community and professional assistance, some people are more likely to encounter mental illness. In addition, such factors as one’s ability to receive help, access to support networks, and potential for recovery are all influenced by overarching social factors. Race/ethnicity, class and identity, in particular, play the biggest role in one’s experience with mental illness. People of color and other minorities systematically find themselves in stressful conditions, often being unable to find proper pathways towards healing (Williams, 2018). Open discrimination, or the presence of social systems hostile to their participation can often significantly reduce one’s ability to find help (Williams, 2018). Current research states that black people are less likely to seek out voluntary mental health services, due to factors such as mistrust, perceived negative consequences, and social pressure (Taylor & Kuo, 2019). Similarly, studies concluded that people of color, and transgender people suffer from depression more often than their white cis counterparts (Robertson et al., 2021). Taking into consideration the differences between the population’s experiences can aid counselors in providing better standards of care.
As a result of the aforementioned factors, counseling becomes especially important for people of color, as well as other vulnerable groups. Much effort has been made to help eliminate group disparities in the mental health support sphere. Through group counseling, a professional is able to establish a support system for individuals that need it most, as well as assist them in overcoming adversity. Counseling work plays an irreplaceable role in counteracting the effects of systematic mistreatment, fulfill the professional responsibility of counselors.
Similar to mental health struggles, substance abuse is a problem that any person can face, while also ranging heavily in distribution and severity.Potentially harmful or addctive substances can include drugs, alcohol, medicinal items and some kinds of day-to-day products. Oftentimes, people living in bad financial conditions adopt substance abuse as a maladaptive coping mechanism (Perzow et al., 2018). Economic instability, coupled with a trend toward unhapiness, promotes more drug use, and the lack of money decreases the accessibility of less harmful varieties. Use of drugs, alcohol and other substances can often be long lasting, as low-income individuals are more likely to drop out from psychosocial treatment programs (Lappan et al., 2019). Marginalized communities, as the part of society more likely to experience poverty, therefore, often experience substance abuse. A further look, black and Latino people are less likely to participate in treatment for substance use (Pinedo, 2019). With a higher general likelihood for substance abuse, these minority communities require the assistance of a counseling professional to improve their condition.
In cases of substance abuse, counseling can be especially vital, helping to promote better self control, understanding and personal accountability. Engagement in community resources and a sense of support coming from group treatments also helps individuals better face off against their bad habits, and form better behavioral patterns. Counselors possess the required knowledge and capability to direct a group effort towards change, and helping people most affected by social conditions to live better lives.
Opportunities for Future Development
There are many avenues for the counseling field to develop. The adoption of new techniques and solutions for helping people happens quickly, with new emergent solutions presenting themselves over the years. In the coming of the digital age, the use of technology, smart appliances and the internet, in particular, became prominent. Currently, the majority of counseling practitioners are skeptical about using modern technology or communication in their practice (Nagarajan & S, 2019). The limitations of the internet as a medium of communication, a way of establishing trust, or creating a local community are among the chief concerns of critics. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the currently existing technology for counseling. The use of technology and the worldwide web has the potential to open access to more people that require support, improving the reach of counseling. In addition, a sophisticated technological intervention can be effective in assisting a counselor in their daily work. The effects of the recent pandemic can also be further explored within the counseling profession. A global crisis, economic and social instability, loss of life – all of these factors have been contributing to an increased need to support the population. As a result, the counseling sphere as a whole must quickly adapt to the changes and find the emergent needs of the population, as a way of helping the public. A research paper on the subject suggest an emphasis on supporting the mental wellbeing of frontline healthcare workers must be made, along with referencing similar events in the past for guidance (Vostanis & Bell, 2020). Such an approach would focus counseling work on addressing the problems of those that need it most, and remedying the most severe consequences of the pandemic.
In conclusion, it can be said that the field of mental health and substance abuse counseling is extremely necessary for society. With the interconnection of economic, social, political and ecological problems, local communities require more support each year. Communities find it hard to receive systematic assistance from the governemnt or other institutions. The work of active counselors addresses the public’s need to build resilience, helping to strengthen local communities and empowering individuals. Specific groups of people expereince both issues in question more severely than others, depending on their living conditions and background. Components such as race, ethnicity, identity, income, can all infleunce a person’s struggle with mental health or substances. Therefore, it becomes crucial for counsellors to assist these people more rigorously. Through their work, they are able to safeguard the vulnerable populations and prevent mental health deterioration. Such goals come through in the way therapy is organized, and how a counsellor may choose to organize their sessions. This field of work adopts a variety of strategies to suit its needs, ranging from different therapeutic arrangements to specific types of mental support. Professionals in the field are able to put groups of people together and ensure they are able to create a healthy positive relationship to one another. Interestingly, there is also a large potential for future growth in the counselling industry. Despite current concerns, the use of technology in the process remains one of the most ambitious ideas for this area of work, as it would increase the reach of each individual counsellor and create new opportunities for client support. Furthermore, there is an emergent neccessity to adress some of the issues the industry experienced as a result of COVID-19. The lack of preparation from the government and many other entities makes it necessary for counsillors to enhance the health and resilience of the most endangered demographic – frontline medial workers. Finding new solutions towards providing care and improving people’s lives is a task counsellors constantly work toward. Much like other medical professionals, they must adopt evidence based practice and recognize the current limitations of their practice.
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