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According to the United States Department of Labor, mental health counselors “work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to promote optimum mental health. ” They do so using a variety of modalities and techniques but are not authorized to dispense of any psychiatric medications. Rather, counselors “collect information through interviews, observations and tests, and decide how best to help clients,” (“Mental Health Counselor”).

Substance abuse, depression, relationship and career issues are some of the areas that mental health counselors may address with their clients. Mental health counselors generally possess a Master’s degree and work in a range of setting such as private practices or hospitals and also often work in tandem with other health care professionals depending on the needs of their clients. Job outlook for mental health counselors is very good and as of May of 2004, the median salary for mental health counselors in the United States was $45,570 (“Counselors”).

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Considered “one of the most challenging areas of human/social services,” substance abuse counselors work specifically with clients to address addiction issues including eating disorders and gambling as well as drug and alcohol abuse (“Substance Abuse Counselor”). Like mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors usually work in tandem with other mental health professionals to best address the needs of individual clients. Substance abuse counselors may also work in a range of professional settings including inpatient mental health facilities and treatment centers.

One of the reasons why the job outlook for substance abuse counselors is positive is because of public policy shifts toward rehabilitation and treatment for drug offenders, because of the prevalence of addiction and comorbidity problems, and because of increasing education and awareness regarding substance abuse. Professional training is similar for substance abuse counselors as for mental health counselors, and a Master’s degree is generally preferred. Social workers work with clients who need help with a range of issues not limited to mental health diagnoses.

For example, social workers often assist the poor, the physically disabled, and the elderly in reaching optimal wellness. Social workers do address issues commonly covered by mental health counselors such as substance abuse or depression, but frame those problems as a subset of broader community and social issues. For example, a social worker will take into account community outreach services, housing conditions, and job opportunities as well as family background and mental health.

Many social workers can practice with a Bachelor’s degree but a Master’s is generally preferred. Working in a wide range of facilities, many social workers also work with nonprofit organizations. Social workers enjoy a range of career opportunities, especially those willing to work in rural rather than urban areas, where job competition is strong (“Social Workers”). According to the US. Department of Labor, clinical psychologists “help mentally and emotionally disturbed clients adjust to life and may assist medical and surgical patients in dealing with illnesses or injuries.

” Many clinical psychologists are self-employed and run their own private practices, while many others work full-time in hospitals, mental health facilities, or in private or nonprofit organizations. Clinical psychologists often choose to specialize in a particular population group or in a particular area of concern like substance abuse. Some become more closely involved with research and academia than with client counseling. Generally, clinical psychologists need a PhD as a professional credential.

Job outlook is positive, as a demand for clinical psychologists is growing. With requisite medical training, psychiatrists are authorized to administer therapeutic drugs to their clients in addition to providing counseling, assessment, and therapy. Psychiatrists determine whether psychological conditions indicate neurological, neurochemical, or biological preconditions. Often working with a team of mental health professionals, psychiatrists usually specialize in a particular field to best address the needs of a community of clients.

Psychiatrists can and do take into account a client’s medical history when making psychological assessments and when administering medications and may also authorize neurological examinations to determine whether a biological condition underlies a psychological or behavioral malady. Many psychiatrists work only as private professionals, but many also work in conjunction with hospitals, clinics, and mental health organizations. A medical degree is an absolute requirement to become a psychiatrist, and therefore training and preparation for the career is relatively long and costly.

A special type of Registered Nurse (RN), a psychiatric nurse tends to the needs of mental health patients, usually in hospital or clinical settings but also in private practices, alongside physicians. Psychiatric nurses work with a variety of clients with issues ranging from mood disorders to substance abuse to autism. Like all RNs, psychiatric nurses must receive certification and licensure beyond a Bachelor level. Psychiatric nurses will generally be familiar with psychiatric medications and the full gamut of mental health concerns.

However, unlike psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses do not need medical degrees and can only administer medication that is approved by a physician. Although job outlook varies depending on location and job setting, in general psychiatric nurses have a positive outlook, with career options expected to remain robust in the near future. A marriage and family therapist is “trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, family and social adjustment.

” Because all individuals are involved in interpersonal relationships, the services that a marriage and family therapist are broad and career outlooks are strong. The therapist can work with individual clients, with couples, or with families. Counseling includes assessments of the individuals involved as well as the cognitive and behavioral issues evident in the interpersonal relationships. Marriage and family therapists usually address relationship conflicts including sexual dysfunction, divorce, homosexual unions, and other issues that affect family units.

Marriage and family therapists may work in tandem with other mental health professionals such as by referring clients to specialists, social workers, or psychiatrists where necessary. All mental health careers are interrelated and mental health professionals have become interdependent, their roles sometimes blurred when working with clients with special needs. Of the above listed careers, only psychiatrists require medical degrees. Many mental health workers can begin working with a Bachelor’s degree but most of the time, a Master’s or a PhD will be necessary.

Work settings for mental health careers are similar: some choose to work in private practice settings, others in organizational ones. Some mental health professionals, such as social worker, lends themselves more to organizational work than to private practice, whereas others, like marriage and family therapists, are more inclined to be self-employed. Regardless, all of the mental health careers require patience, compassion, caring, and expert training. Bibliography : “Counselors. ” U. S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos067. htm “Mental Health Counselor. ” Florida Health Careers. Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. flahec. org/hlthcareers/MENTCOUN. HTM “Occupation Information. ” Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. myfuture. edu. au/services/default. asp? FunctionID=5050;ASCO=231227A “Physicians. ” U. S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos074. htm “Registered Nurses. ” U. S.

Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos083. htm “Social Workers. ” U. S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos060. htm “Substance Abuse Counselor. ” The Princeton Review. Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. princetonreview. com/cte/profiles/dayInLife. asp? careerID=172 “What is a Marriage and Family Therapist. ” Retrieved Feb 21, 2006 from http://www. camft. org/scriptcontent/whatIsMFT/WhatIsMFT. html

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