Mental health counselling or clinical counselling is a practice in psychology that helps relieve psychological disorders or distress by promoting personal development. It also practices psychotherapy, consultation, forensic investigation specifically forensic testimony, formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs for the treatment of psychological dysfunction and research. Because of the nature of this field, it is usually monitored as a mental health profession.
Mental health counselling has its roots from the later part of 19th century. And as the field of psychology grew, branches began to develop, among them is counselling psychology and clinical counselling- both are useful in mental health assessment and counselling.
While closely associated with clinical psychology, there are still marked differences between the two practices.
For one, counselling psychology is used by psychotherapist and counsellors to help patients with milder psychopathological concerns. On the other hand, clinical counselling deals with more severe and advanced forms of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders. Examples of disorders that could be treated by counselling psychology are the stress-related disorders. In essence, these are just minor mental health illness that requires very little (if there is any) medical interventions.
This method tries to address minor psychological concerns and make use of counselling techniques. This is possible since patients subjected under this method are still in control of their mind. For example, people who are distressed due to problematic circumstances could seek the professionals who could render counselling psychology.
Counselling psychology focuses more on the personal problems of the person that hamper his mental health. It helps him resolve problems by using non-directive methods, therefore a counselling psychologist would only open options that will help resolve the problem without being suggestive or authoritative. Also, counselling psychology is more focused on rational thinking instead of unconscious functioning.
The second difference is that counselling psychology adheres to a humanistic or person-centred approach. Third, it has a different view on the developmental problems associated with mental disorders.
On the other hand, clinical psychology deals more on severe psychological disorders such as clinical manic depression like unipolar and bipolar disorders, sexual dysfunctions such as exhibitionism, fetishism and sadism, phobias, traumas and substance-abuse or dependency.
Because of a more comprehensive and intensive nature of this field, clinical counselling makes use of psychological assessment tools that further confirm the symptoms of disorders among people with disrupted mental health. The mental health assessment is a medium for evaluating symptoms that a person presents. This gives insights to mental health professionals that will guide them in the preparation, administration and evaluation of treatment methods that are apt to the mental health needs of a patient. The process of assessment requires the use of interviews, physical examinations and clinical observations. Also, assessment tools such as intelligence, symptoms questionnaires, personality and neuropsychological tests are widely used. All these contribute significantly to the diagnostic impressions that will be formulated after all data are collected and studied.
Despite these differences, counselling psychology and clinical counselling are proven to be very effective as mental health counselling methods. Both advocates the use of talk treatment that could either help resolve the problem for the mental health patient or open up indications that may be pointed out as causes of the development of the disorder. In effect, both types of counselling make mental health therapy and recovery feasible.
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