The Roles of a Counselor

1 January 2017

Mental Health counseling has become a wide area of study that is highly recommended to those who are unbalanced and in need of support. Today, clinical mental health counselors take on many responsibilities when giving services to their clients. Effective clinical mental health counselors acknowledge differences among people and seek to improve their competence with diverse populations (Gladding el at. , 2010). This is very important ,specifically for counselors who will work in America, because America is considered to be such a diverse country.

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With America being such a culturally diverse country, counselors must develop multicultural counseling competencies to treat effectively. According to Gladding and Newsome (2010), community and mental health counselors promote client well-being on multiple levels by providing prevention services and treatment for a wide range of clients. Counselors serve many roles, and are obligated to a great number of responsibilities, and must strive to maintain the professional ethics and moral codes they’ve ascribed to for the advocacy and well-being of their clients (American Counseling Association, 2005). A professional counselor’s first and foremost responsibility is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2005). Providing quality care without compromising ethical and legal concerns is a challenging but necessary goal for all counselors who work in managed care environments (Gladding, 2010). Another essential Smith 3 responsibility is building rapport with their clients.

This allows the client to become comfortable with the counselor as well as helping both parties find a common ground, making conversation more natural. Although counselors have many responsibilities, they should first assure that clients are comfortable, respected, supported, and heard. Trust in these relationships is vital. It is the counselor’s responsibility to build a relationship of trust between the counselor and client from the very beginning in order for the client to feel comfortable about discussing their issues to an individual who they just met.

Gathering information and getting their clients involved in the helping process will develop grounds for an effective treatment plan to be established that serves as the basis for the next phase of counseling. The counselor must be confident in assessing the client and developing a treatment plan that will be beneficial for the client. Once the rapport is well established, the therapeutic process can begin . It is also imperative that counselors follow the code of ethics established by the American Mental Health Counselors Association. The roles that mental health counselors fill are to promote mental health wellness through awareness, prevention, intervention, and treatment. Excellent counselors are trained to assess and diagnose, as well as, provide crisis intervention and work with individuals, groups, couples, and families” (Gladding & Newsome, 2010). Counselors are also required to provide services beyond crisis intervention, prevention, advocacy, and evaluation. Awareness must be taken into consideration of the environment in which ounseling services are being rendered such as the comfort ability of the room which does have a major effect on how the client may respond to counseling. Color schemes, furniture, room accessories, lighting, room temperature, confidentiality are all key factor to remember when decorating office. A counselor should take Smith 4 on the responsibility to make the room feel comfortable, “home-like”, and relaxing as possible and they might seek consultation to do so.

Among their other responsibilities, counselors must maintain well-kept records of the counseling activities and client’s progress. This is a key component of working effectively with clients. Accurate documentation is benefits both the counselor and their client. Keeping accurate professional records facilitates the provision of quality services to clients and provides self protection for the counselor and ensures that state and federal guidelines are being followed.

According to Gladding and Newsome, some of the other roles of counselors are: outpatient counseling services, day programs, emergency services/crisis intervention, substance abuse services, case management and outreach, education and consultation, residential programs, and inpatient services. Their responsibilities, demands, and functions may then include: client assessment and diagnosis, crisis intervention and prevention, treatment design and implementation.

This will also give more experience in seeing that the counselor will be working with all populations including children, adolescents, and adults in individuals, group, and family settings. The key to being an effective practitioner, especially in today’s diverse climate, includes an awareness and understanding of the client’s particular identity, influences and contributions of their unique culture, age, religion, and other related factors such as family influences and values, and even their socioeconomic status in relationship as to how the client has perceived those experiences and influences.

As stated before, multicultural competency is an essential skill needed to ensure effective practice in counseling; lacking the awareness to the Smith 5 specific needs and cultural issues that clients face can ultimately lead to negative outcomes. This is why some counselors research the background of their clients and seek consultation when doing assessments or sending the client to a psychiatrist for a psychological exam. According to the ACA code of ethics, counselors have the responsibility to seek knowledge about different racial and ethnic groups, so that they are effectively able to work with these clients (ACA, 2005).

Counselors have the responsibility to remain educated in the changing trends of society’s needs, including the vast diversity that is found in the United States so that the counselor truly understand the client’s background history prior to developing a plan for wellness. A competent counselor provides an effective relationship, respect for the client, empathic understanding, and the communication of empathy respect, and genuineness to the client. The counselor might consult with the client about any concerns before starting services to ensure of these things.

There are several national and state policies that help regulate and pay for mental health service throughout the United States. Since January 2011, the provisions and regulations of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act have been in effect, requiring group health insurance plans (those with more than 50 insured employees) that offer coverage for mental illness and substance use disorders to provide those benefits in no more restrictive way than all other medical and surgical procedures covered by the plan.

While the act does not require group health plans to cover mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) benefits but, when plans do cover these benefits, MH and SUD benefits must be covered at levels that are no Smith 6 lower and with treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than would be the case for the other medical and surgical benefits offered by the plan (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, n. d. I currently am a resident in the state of Georgia and the public policy which governs the service delivery for mental health clients has been identified as the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. This agency began its operating position in July of 2009 after the Governor began networking with the General Assembly to reform the overall dynamics of mental health and addictive disease services in the state of Georgia.

According to the DBHDD website, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities operates seven regional state hospitals while providing and overseeing community based services across the state. The agency provides funds for services in the area of mobile crisis for children and adults, ACT Teams that can be described as a hospital without walls, group homes, and stabilization programs. The website (gabdhdd. policystat. com) describes community based programs “is to serve people as close to home as possible in the least restrictive setting”.

The philosophy behind this principle is that individuals can draw from natural supports such as family, church, neighbors, schools and other community activities with the help of mental health counselors to avoid jail, hospital, and other forms of institutions. The aforementioned entity remains governed under the (2010) Georgia Code title 37-Mental Health (State Law). According to chapter 1 Article 2 (section 37-1-20) the obligations of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (5) Have authority to contract Smith 7 or services with community service boards, private agencies, and other public entities for the provision of services within a service area so as to provide an adequate array of services and choice of providers for consumers and to comply with the applicable federal laws and rules and regulations related to public or private hospitals; hospital authorities; medical schools and training and educational institutions; departments and agencies of this state; county or municipal governments; any person, partnership, corporation, or association, whether public or private; and the United States government or the government of any other state.

Besides the aforementioned, the entire Article (2) is dedicated to the improvement of mental health services the empowerment of clients to a level of self sufficiency and self management. There are several public policies that have impacted the quality of services given when dealing with mental health. There are a number of state grants/programs that help adults with low income and no insurance get the services they need. These programs in Georgia such as Peach Care, Fee for Services, Medicaid, etc help pay for more people that are not in the middle class or high society to get help that would not be ble to afford it if these programs weren’t in place. DBHDD is a “covered entity” as defined in, and as governed by, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its regulations (HIPAA). This policy is therefore applicable to any facility or program that is a part of DBHDD, including the state office, regional offices, state operated DBHDD hospitals and any state operated community programs (DBHDD 2011). Georgia is very good about building programs and systems to help people with mental illnesses become more socially advanced and progressed.

The state also helps them find Smith 8 housing, enroll in educational programs, and find employment. The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network works with the state to ensure that consumers can successfully live in their communities by advocating for employment support, housing and peer support. Programs like this assist mental health counselors in their role of getting the client active and involved to complete their treatment plans successfully and maintain the kind of life they wish to.

The responsibility of the counselor is to promote wellness and prevention, actively recognize diversity issues, provide comprehensive services, and provide continual care (Gladding & Newsome, 2010). An effective counselor must balance all of their responsibilities in order to sufficiently fulfill the roles they play in their client’s lives and treatment. The counselors must remain professional at all times, respectful, honest, and tactful with the clients. It creates a healthy and therapeutic relationship with the client.

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