Key Takeaways

  • Mental health counselors are trained to address mental health concerns, relationship issues, and general life challenges.
  • Working with a mental health counselor can help you build better coping skills, focus on personal growth, and improve your emotional well-being.
  • A counselor’s exact title is based on their level of education, specialization, and other qualifications.

Research suggests that having a strong relationship with your mental health provider is essential to getting the most out of your therapy experience. You may be wondering how exactly to find the right therapist or counselor to foster that foundation with you. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for mental health treatment but learning more about each type of provider can better prepare you to find the right person to support your healing journey. There are counselors, therapists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists. There are even variations within the category of mental health counselor. 

Here, we review how mental health counselors work with their clients to understand their needs and create personalized treatment plans to help them reach their goals.

What does a mental health counselor do?

Mental health counselors are trained to diagnose, treat, and support people with mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. According to the American Counseling Association, professional counselors can help people gain personal insights and create strategies and solutions to manage life’s challenges. Counselors focus on getting to know each client so that they can offer healthy coping techniques and create a supportive environment. 

Mental health counselors use a variety of techniques to help clients create meaningful behavior change. Some common approaches in counseling include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT is a type of psychotherapy that’s used to help people understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact their overall mental health and well-being.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: With psychodynamic therapy, counselors encourage clients to become more aware of the connection between their past experiences and their current mindset and behaviors.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy supports families as they learn how to improve their communication skills and create more balanced relationships. 
  • Humanistic and holistic approaches: This type of therapy is based on the idea that each person has the potential for personal growth and self-improvement. With humanistic and holistic care, counselors offer an empathetic and nurturing environment to help people cultivate self-acceptance and growth. 

What are the benefits of mental health counseling?

If you’re struggling with mental health symptoms or other life challenges, consider working with a mental health counselor. One of the biggest benefits of talk therapy is the opportunity to share your concerns in a safe and confidential space that is free of judgment. 

Other benefits of mental health counseling include: 

  • Emotional well-being: Counselors can help clients improve their emotional well-being by supporting their ability to navigate change, recover from difficult times, and prioritize self-care.
  • Personal growth and resilience: Working with a counselor provides a valuable opportunity to learn more about yourself, your values, and how to create a healthier, more fulfilling life. 
  • Coping skills: Another leading benefit of counseling is finding healthier coping methods for managing stressful situations and negative emotions.
  • Mental health support: Mental health counselors are also trained to help people identify mental health symptoms and manage triggers. They may also refer you to a psychiatric provider if medications might be helpful for your treatment. 

What are the different types of mental health counselors?

Mental health counselors hold a master’s degree in psychology or counseling, have completed several years of clinical work experience, and are licensed to practice in their state. They’re trained to conduct both individual and group counseling sessions, and can practice at private clinics, health centers, schools, hospitals, among other locations.

A counselor’s exact title is based on their education, specialization, and other qualifications. Several types of mental health counselors include: 

  • Licensed professional counselor (LPC)
  • Licensed mental health counselor (LMHC)
  • Licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP)
  • Licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)
  • Licensed professional certified counselor (LPCC)
  • Licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC)
  • Nationally certified counselor (NCC)

Mental health counselors versus behavioral therapists 

If you’re considering a mental health counselor versus a behavioral health therapist, here’s what you need to know. Counselors and behavioral therapists are both trained to help clients address their mental health concerns and create healthier behaviors, but may use different techniques to do so. 

Mental health counselors tend to address a wide range of concerns including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, stress management, and career guidance. They often use talk therapy and support to help people gain insight and develop coping strategies.

Behavioral therapists focus on helping people change specific behaviors through the use of evidence-based techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), applied behavioral analysis (ABA), and exposure therapy. Their approach is more structured and focuses on concrete goals and measurable outcomes.

Read What’s the difference between a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a psychiatrist?

What kinds of issues can a mental health counselor help with?

Mental health counselors help people manage mental health concerns, relationship issues, and general life challenges. They’re trained to listen to people’s concerns and offer support to help them overcome those concerns.

Working with a mental health counselor may be a good fit if you’re:

  • Struggling to understand your feelings
  • Seeking new skills and coping methods
  • Working on personal growth
  • Looking for more information about mental health conditions or symptoms 
  • Looking for a safe space to talk 

Mental health counselors can also support folks who are struggling with issues such as:

Find a mental health counselor with Rula

Working with a mental health counselor is an opportunity to reflect on what is and isn’t working in your life. Counselors can help you overcome challenges, meet your goals, and prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.

At Rula, we’re here to make it easier to connect with a counselor who takes your insurance and offers the specialized care you deserve. Rula helps folks find a counselor who offers individual, couples, or family counseling to help you explore your unique needs and concerns.

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