The following paper will discuss the concept of professional identity and why it is important to the successful future of mental health counseling. This paper will also review the key characteristics or personality traits of a successful professional counselor and the duties and functions performed by a mental health professional. Last, I will evaluate the professional setting in which I would to like see clients. In the late 1970s, in-field professionals formed Mental Health Counseling (MHC), making it the youngest of the counseling fields (Pistole, 2002).
Since its start, it seems that separating itself as its own professional identity has been a huge focus in the profession. In 2013, the MHC profession is more united than ever, and has its best chance for its own professional identity. This unity and strength is due in large part to the creation of the 20/20 Principles for Unifying and Strengthening the Profession, a document crafted in 2005 by the leaders of the MHC. “This document delineates a core set of principles that unifies and advances the counseling profession.
The Principles for Unifying and Strengthening the Profession is endorsed by 29 major counseling organizations.” Of the seven issues identified by this document as needing immediate attention by the counseling profession, “Strengthening identity” and “Presenting ourselves as one profession” were at the top of the list (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). The MHC profession involves helping people in some way. This help may involve severe emotional problems or minor decisions; in either situation, the counseling professional offers some assistance in the particular situation (Collison & Garfield, 1996). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mental Health Counselors must be good listeners and critical thinkers in order to diagnose their client’s problems. Further, they should express themselves effectively and sympathize with their client’s problems. They must be able to maintain a calm demeanor and stay in control when resolving conflicts.
Successful counselors must also have flexibility to work in a wide variety of work environments such as a private office, meeting room, outdoors, or even in a home. Last, professional counselors must display self-control, tolerance, integrity, and sensitivity with their clients (Myroup, 2010). A mental health counselor’s primary responsibility is helping clients; the best way they can do this is by listening and asking questions. Once they have accomplished this first step, they can help their clients understand their problems better and develop coping strategies, learn additional behavioral skills, and gain tools to enhance their lives (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor, 2012).
I would be best suited to work with women who suffer from anxiety and depression because of issues including: infertility, pregnancy loss, unplanned pregnancy, postpartum depression, cancer, and other women’s health issues. I have life experience with the majority of these issues and I could relate well to women struggling with these troubles. I would be an engaged and empathic listener and would enjoy the opportunity to help other women help themselves. Although I have very little exposure to the following area, I am also interested crisis counseling and think that a career with the Phoenix Fire or Police Department would be interesting and rewarding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website provides the following list of duties that pertain to a Mental Health Counseling career: •Diagnose and treat mental and emotional problems
•Encourage clients to discuss their feelings and experiences •Help clients process their reactions and adjust to changes in their lives •Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future •Help clients develop strategies to change behavior and learn coping skills •Coordinate treatment with other mental health professionals •Refer clients to other resources or services in the community (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012)
Even though my two areas of interest, women’s mental health and crisis treatment are vastly different, the list provided by the BLS would likely pertain to both careers paths but is certainly not conclusive. Crisis counseling with the Police or fire department may be more of an acute counseling situation on site (of a fire or crime scene) and then clients are referred to a private practice or outpatient counseling setting. The decision to go into private practice should not be taken lightly; there are many pros and cons to this professional setting. On the positive side, counselors have more autonomy, scheduling flexibility, earning potential, and they can make the decisions on the client types they wish to see.
Some negative aspects of private practice are the responsibilities related to running a business such as billing, medical records, and office administration. Counselors are also responsible for establishing and maintaining their patients, getting referrals from new sources, and promoting the practice (Carney & Granato, 2000). From a business perspective, I possess some of the key qualifications that would make me a good fit for private practice like my background in the medical field and my bachelors degree in Business Management. I worked for a total of 12 years the medical field as a medical office administrator managing all aspects of the office including billing, medical records, HIPAA, and marketing managed every aspect of a medical office including billing, HIPAA, medical records, and marketing. I also have the luxury of time.
Our household is not dependent on me for an income, so there would be time to build up a practice of clients without the stress of a delinquent income. I am further intrigued by the autonomy, flexibility, and economic self-determination aspects of private practice. In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated the concept of professional identity as it relates to MHC and why it is important to its future. It also has discussed the key characteristics and personality traits of a successful counselor and what duties and functions they may perform. Lastly, it evaluated the private practice setting as a work environment and how I think would be suited for it from a business perspective.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service-/mental-health-counselors