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First off, the terms counselor, psychiatrist, and psychologist are often easily confused. They are all mental health professionals, however, they do not all practice in a similar manner:

Licensed Mental Health Counselor: Requires a Master’s degree and state licensure to practice; the goal is to promote overall mental and emotional wellness in their clients.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness; the only type of mental health professional who can prescribe medication to clients.

Psychologist: An umbrella term for someone who has a doctoral degree in psychology. They use a scientific perspective to focus on many psychology-related issues and can practice as a researcher, clinician, or both.

  • As defined by the American Counseling Association, “Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

  • Participate in person or via telehealth:

    • Some mental health professionals offer their services via Telehealth, meaning your sessions will occur through video conferences, telephone, online chat, etc. (see #1 under “Tips For The Client” for more information on how to get started with counseling)

  • The counseling room is meant to be a space for you that is open, accepting, and nonjudgmental.

  • Professional counselors help with communication, coping skills, identifying & reaching goals, and more.

  • Common reasons to seek counseling often include; relationship issues, self-esteem issues, trauma, coping skills, general mental wellness, other life challenges, etc. 

  • Counseling is typically terminated when the problem that caused a client to pursue counseling becomes manageable or resolved (can be 8-10 sessions, over various months, etc.)

  • Most importantly, counseling is a personal choice!

    • There are no criteria that someone must meet in order to receive counseling services.

    • Similar to how “there is no such thing as an incorrect question”, there is no such thing as an incorrect reason to seek counseling.



*Should you choose to further your education beyond high school, most college campuses offer a number of free counseling sessions for students through the university student or health center*

Helpful Tips
What Is COunseling
  1. Go ‘shopping’: It is often a great idea to go ‘shopping’ for a counselor or therapist. You can do this online, and/or through attending sessions and deciding if you’re comfortable and making a connection with your counselor. Psychology Today is a helpful website to use as a resource. You can also search the site with filters for results if you are looking for a counselor with knowledge about specific issues, one who takes your insurance, is near a certain location, etc. Most counselors will have their contact information on their page so that you can call or email them to set up an appointment. Another great way to find a counselor is by asking your school counselor or doctor if they have someone to refer you to. 

  2. Have a goal in mind: It is helpful to begin counseling with a specific goal in mind for what you are working towards as the client. You want to ensure that you are getting what you want out of your experience.

  3. Participate: It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of counseling is not to receive advice. It is a collaborative process between you and your counselor wherein you work together to find ways for you to independently achieve emotional wellness.

  4. Show up: Be at your scheduled sessions and be on time. Many counselors see clients back-to-back in 50-minute sessions, so you want to make the best possible use of that time.

  5. Be curious: The counseling process includes a great deal of learning about oneself. It is important to be open to that experience and to use it as a vehicle for change in one’s life.

  6. Be ready to change: The counseling process goes hand-in-hand with the change, whether it be big or small. You can decide exactly what that looks like for yourself, as long as you are putting in the work. Your counselor is there to support and guide you through!

  7. Do your work between sessions: It is common for counselors to assign ‘homework’ to their clients. Don’t worry, we are not talking about book reports or essays. Homework in counseling often includes opportunities for clients to practice carrying out things that are talked about in sessions into daily life. After doing so, the client can take note of their experience and learn from it personally, and/or bring it back to the session to discuss with their counselor and determine room for growth.

  8. Patience: There usually isn’t a quick fix to anything in life, and counseling is no exception to that. Hence why it is called the counseling process. Have patience for yourself, for your counselor, and for the counseling process. 

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