Using “talk therapy“ (commonly referred to as psycho-therapy), professional Counselors work with a variety of clients to help them overcome various psychological and behavioral issues – families in crisis, adults and teens with substance abuse problems, children, and even people seeking career guidance.
Depending on their specialization, a professional counselor might work in one of several different settings. Often, professional counselors work within hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Their focus here can be as varied as the patients that come in on a daily basis. Some might work directly with people facing terminal illness or life-changing procedures, while others might focus on people who are struggling to overcome a substance abuse and addiction. Still other professional counselors work solely with people whose hospital stay is related to mental illness.
Some counselors work within elementary, high school and university settings. Working one on one with students (and occasionally parents and teachers as well) these counselors tackle the underlying reasons behind why students are acting out, getting poor grades, or are suddenly acting withdrawn or out of character. Counselors often uncover physical and sexual abuse in the home, learning disabilities and/or hidden talents.
Other professional counselors work in private practice. Among their clients are families looking to resolve issues within the home, newlywed couples trying to meld two sets of step-siblings under one roof for the first time, divorced people looking to rebuild their lives, and people looking for career guidance after losing a job or graduating from school. Additionally, some professional counselors specialize in specified symptoms – e.g., eating disorders, sexual addiction, anxiety and depression and grief.
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What To Expect
The talk-therapy aspect of professional counseling involves meeting with pre-scheduled clients to discuss their challenges, involving their mental and emotional selves. Counselors may meet with single clients, married couples, children and even entire families.
During talk therapy, counselors will meet with clients for a scheduled period of time, often 45 minutes to one hour. During this time, the counselor will listen to the client(s) speak about their specific challenges while taking notes. The counselor may guide the conversation to retrieve specific information or to help the client more effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings.
During the session the counselor may advise the client on outside practices to assist in problem behaviors. For instance, a marriage counselor may offer an alternative approach to addressing issues in the home to avoid angry reactions by both husband and wife. The types of therapies used in each counseling session differ greatly according to the client and the type of assistance needed.
In addition to in-person counseling sessions, counselors may spend additional time analyzing their clients’ specific challenges and researching possible causes and solutions. Counselors who work with children may watch their clients for specific behaviors that might be attributed to psychological or behavioral disorders so that they can design specific therapies for that client. Counselors often work with other counselors and health professionals so that they can provide additional resources for their clients.