Guest Post – What Is Clinical Mental Health CounselLing?

If you are a long time reader you will know my passion is menial health. I am always grateful to have people who contact me asking to guest post on The Spoonie Mummy – I feel like I must be doing something right! I try and ensure I only accept guest posts that fit in with the topics I like to write about on here, and this was one of those topics that I thought perfect for a Mental Health Monday post.

I am a big believer in therapy for everyone struggling with life and mental health. What so many people don’t realise is that there are hundreds of different types of therapy out there. Counselling, CBT, group therapy, systemic therapy, music therapy – the list goes on and on. It is then further divided by the approach a therapist uses – humanistic, psychoanalysis, behavioural etc. This may all sound a little confusing but what I want you to understand is that there are many different options available to you depending on what your issues are and what type of therapy you would like! This article focuses on Clinical Mental Health Counselling which is used for many different reasons, but focuses on addiction here.

What Is Clinical Mental Health Counselling?

Most people have a general idea of what a psychiatrist or psychologist does. These are people who help those who have mental health problems. But what exactly do they do and – more specifically – what is clinical mental health counselling?

If you’re going through a mental health crisis then you may have considered seeing a counsellor. Depending on the severity of your problems this may be a good idea. Another place where the phrase clinical mental health has become popular is with people who have addiction problems said Eric B – Founder of Anchored Recovery in Orange County, CA

History of Clinical Mental Health Counselling

At the beginning of the 20th century, drug use and alcoholism were simply seen as a moral failing. People with addiction problems were seen as having a weakness, and were simply told to stop their behaviour. Over time our viewpoint has become more enlightened and addiction issues were seen as an illness over which addicts do not have very much control. 

Today this type of thinking has come full circle, and society has realized that the majority of addiction issues are caused by underlying mental health conditions. The reason why you are an addict is not because you are a bad person or have some type of weakness, instead it’s simply because you suffer from untreated mental illness. 

The key to relieving these issues is to first treat the mental health conditions, before tackling the addiction. This is what the discipline of clinical mental health counselling attempts to do. Mental health counselling also ties into something called total patient care. This is when each patient is given personal one on one care by a medical health professional. In many cases the mental health counsellor will work together with psychiatrists, social workers, support groups and long term treatment services in order to help the patient. 

In fact, clinical mental health counselling often forms a large part of rehabilitation programs. During these sessions the counsellor will attempt to diagnose the reasons for your issues with addiction. As we’ve said addiction issues are often caused by underlying mental health issues. 

This will be determined through things like talk therapy and also medical tests. The counsellor may also use a variety of psychotherapy techniques and methods, which can help you deal with psychological distress. They will talk to you about your experiences, emotions, and thoughts, and will also help you to navigate your way through negative thoughts and emotions. 

A counsellor will also help you develop a plan for recovery. They will assist you in making a plan for the future, and also with identifying the situations, behaviours, and thoughts which may trigger a relapse and interfere with your recovery. They will help you identify anything which may influence your mental health. This can include things like peer pressure, stress, financial difficulties, and also health issues. Ultimately, the goal of a counsellor is to help you develop the skills and coping abilities which are needed to deal with life. 

Your counsellor may also help with any problems that you have with your family. Quite often addicts have serious problems within their families. Whether this is a breakdown in the family unit, trauma, or a lack of trust caused by addiction issues. A good counsellor can help you deal with these issues and put your family back together. 

One of the reasons why mental health counselling is so important is because counsellors do not focus on the problem or dysfunction itself. They understand that mental health problems can often arise from where you are in life. Your issues may have come about simply in reaction to the situation you are in, and are not necessarily your fault. 

Mental health counsellors also try to focus on overall wellbeing. They will encourage you to develop a healthy lifestyle and behaviours, as this can go a long way towards solving mental health problems. 

As you can imagine this is a demanding job, which is why mental health counsellors are highly qualified. Usually, the counsellor will be either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. It’s important that you understand this distinction, because it will affect the type of treatment which you will receive. The biggest difference is that psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors while psychologists are not. 

What this mostly means is that psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication. Most clinical mental health counsellors are psychiatrists. This is a necessary part of their job because many times they will need to prescribe medication (this is especially true if you are seeing a counsellor as part of your treatment program).

Early Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health

Assuming you’re not currently in rehab, then when is it a good time to see one of these professionals? Many times you may take the initiative and seek out a counsellor on your own. If that’s not the case, you may want to see a counsellor when you are experiencing the following. 

  • You have intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts or memories. These may be related to trauma you have experienced in the past. 
  • Your life seems overwhelming and completely unmanageable. This can also include people who are unable to deal with drug or alcohol abuse. 
  • You feel depressed, hopeless, disconnected, or uninterested in life, or the things which used to give you pleasure. 
  • You have an overwhelming sense of anxiety or nervousness. 
  • Your relationships have broken down, are no longer working, or have had a tremendous strain placed upon them. 
  • You’re lonely and simply need someone to talk to. You feel as if you’d benefit by talking about your problems with a professional. 

Final Thoughts

It’s also useful to note that you don’t have to suffer from a mental health problem or addiction issue to see a counsellor.  Mental health professionals can help you with a wide range of problems. 
They can assist you with overcoming stressful situations, improving your health and relationships, finding the motivation needed to achieve your goals and dozens of other issues. Some people might also want to see a counsellor for the sake of it. It’s not always a good idea to burden your friends and family with whatever is going on in your life, and a counsellor can provide a sympathetic ear when no one is willing to listen.


I hope you found this helpful, or at least interesting! If you are looking for help with your mental health, please check out my post – Where Can I Find Support For My Mental Health. Take care and keep safe everyone,

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