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Developing Professional Identity

Mental Health Counselor

As a counselor with the aim of making a difference in people’s lives, I would like to join the mental health counseling area, specializing in patients diagnosed with mental illness. In this area, I would be leading people with mental problems on a journey of self-discovery and growth. The journey will help patients overcome obstacles and lead a productive life as well as achieve their goals in life. I will be assessing patients, diagnosing, and treating psychological disorders. Some mental illnesses that I will be working with include bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder among others.

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Mental health counseling focuses on a multifaceted and holistic approach to promote healthy lifestyles, identifying individual stressors and personal level functioning and to preserve the mental health of the patient. Mental health counseling uses a combination of educational, scientific, and professional findings from education, psychology, and counseling disciplines. The profession conceptualizes patients from the developmental or holistic perspective and giving attention to contextual influences of the person’s life. Mental health counselors aim at achieving patient’s wellness and mental health holistically regardless of whether the problems reflect clinical pathology or developmental struggles. As a mental health professional, I would be required to work with individuals and communities to improve mental health. The profession needs me to help patients in defining goals, action planning, and gaining insights.

Counseling Philosophy

In practicing mental health counseling, the concepts of wellness, resilience, and prevention are paramount. Wellness ensures an individual’s optimal health and wellbeing in the body, mind, and spirit. The resilience concept ensures that the person has a positive adaptation despite adversities. Prevention ensures that the person avoids the stressors that may lead to mental illness. Over the years, research has developed various models that have been tested in different communities and cultures and have proven to be useful and practical. During the training, I would regularly apply the models to ensure that I correctly use the basic concepts in counseling. Some useful models that I will use include the wheel of wellness and the indivisible self-models. Other available models will be useful in the determination of counseling interventions.

Mental health counseling, as it was mentioned earlier, depends on research findings. As such, the constant literature review and improvement are important in the counseling practice. There is a strong connection between theory and mental health counseling. Knowledge of the procedures of diagnosing, treatment, and prevention is inevitable in this field, and it is firmly entrenched in theory. I am assuming that the mental illness cases that I will be working with are the existing ones and the procedures provided by research are applicable. Moreover, research will address any adverse situations that may be faced in the future and provide the standard procedures for new and advanced cases.

Licensure and Certification

Florida State has a set of requirements for licensure and certification for mental health counselors. I would require an earned master’s degree from mental health program that is accredited by the Council of Counseling and Related Education Program (CACREP). The program must comprise of 70 semester hours or 90-quarter hours that cover clinical and didactic directives. The program should also contain courses on material abuse and human sexuality. Besides, licensure requires a postmaster’s supervision by a licensed mental health counselor for a minimum of 2 years. The supervision should be spread over a period of not less than 100 weeks with 1500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy provision in mental health counseling. Moreover, the state requires that I should pass the National Board for Certified Counselor’s (NBCC) test known as the national clinical mental health counseling examinations (NCMHCE). It is also mandatory to complete courses on laws and rules that should take 8 hours, HIV/AIDS with a minimum of three hours, and domestic violence which should take a minimum of two hours. The three courses should be offered by certified providers.

My course study plan is well aligned with the state’s requirements. My study plan includes 72 semester hours and a postmaster’s clinical field experience that takes 1800 hours of face-to-face contact with the clients with 120 hours of supervision. It is sponsored by the university and supervised by certified counselors. I plan to take the NCMHCE after the completion of supervised field experience. The study plan may not cover the law and rules, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence courses. I will, therefore, enroll with the approved providers within six months of licensure.

Professional Development

American Counseling Association (ACA) and American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) are some of the professional bodies that mental health counselor can join. The ACA represents counselors from the different practice setting, while AMHCA is the exclusive organization for mental health counseling professionals. Both organizations provide webinars and continuing education programs for their members. Besides, they offer the courses for free sometimes. For instance, ACA offers free course credits in December for its members. They disseminate information to their members in the form of publications, journals, and magazines. They also provide members with the standard procedures and ethics of practice.

While ACA is a massive body represented in North America, Latin America, and Europe, AMHCA is only found in the US. The ACA has a wide connection as it reaches many professionals than AMHCA. However, the practitioners in the mental health counseling fit well in the AMCHA, as it settles specific issues within the field. Continuing education for mental health counselors can be deeper in AMHCA than in ACA. For instance, ACA journals may have to focus on various areas, while AMHCA journals focus only on matters of mental health counseling hence providing more information. Both professional bodies act as mediums where employers meet job seekers. I can get new opportunities as well as advance to better ones.

Impact of Technology

Technology has influenced the field of mental health counseling in various ways. To begin with, technological advancement has brought various tools of communication that can be utilized in counseling. Smartphones, iPads, and social media are some of the tools that are availed by technology and have the potential to change counseling. I can use phones to bridge the gaps between my clients. I can communicate through texting and voice, too. It can be more convenient to the client than face-to-face counseling.

Besides, Internet has enabled services such as online counseling. Through media, such as Skype, I can offer to counsel clients far away from saving costs and time. Technology allows me to use email therapy for my clients as well online chatting. Video conferencing is another way to offer counseling through technology. The social media is an important platform where counselors can advertise their services to their clients.

Furthermore, online supervision may be used to supervise students when training them. The virtual environment in therapy is also a service enabled by technology. The role of this technology is helpful, especially in training. It uses avatars that can be altered to fit into what the trainer wants the trainee to understand. For instance, the avatar can resemble a senior or a young person to suit the training. However, technology raises some ethical issues in mental counseling. The texting can affect the privacy of the clients. Some practices, such as online supervision, are not entirely acceptable standards by the licensing because of the problem of ascertaining hours.

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