On-going research demonstrates that total mental health is a key to achieving added success in life. The application of specific mental health guidelines often creates a decisive advantage!
Complete mental health includes cognitive strength, emotional vitality, and relationship quality. It focuses on how these factors critically influence each other. Mental health encompasses our unique human needs for purpose, integrity, respect and love, creativity and inspiration. It integrates the essential elements of healthful living with best the practices of positive psychology and proven interpersonal skills. Individuals who really enjoy their lives are both physically and mentally fit. They also benefit from productive lifestyles, caring relationships, and peace of mind.
A Mental Health Self-Evaluation
Nearly everyone at one time has wanted to know if they could benefit from mental health counseling. This evaluation asks a few questions that you can use to assess whether it would be helpful to consult with a Licensed Professional Counselor. Most people have an instinctive sense how their life is going. Take a few minutes to consider the questions below.
- In the last year has there been a major change in your life which has been difficult to deal with?
For example; have you or someone close to you experienced a significant illness or injury, has there been a negative change in the quality of your relationships with family members or friends, has there been a death of a loved one, have you or a family member been unemployed or retired, etc?
- Have you generally felt worse about your ability to cope with the stresses of your life?
For example; do you feel tired more often, are you less able to deal with family members or others, are you more likely to be irritated or angry, do you feel sad or anxious much of the time, do you get much less enjoyment out of life, etc.
- Do you sense that some experiences from your past have hindered you from accomplishing what you want to or are still disturbing to you?
For example; have you had to deal with one or more unresolved traumatic experiences including abuse of any kind, any situation that was life-threatening for you or a loved one, constant criticism, recurring nightmares, upsetting memories, any experiences that leave you feeling overwhelmed, etc?
- Have others told you that they are concerned about you?
For example; have friends or family members remarked on your health or on how you interact with others, do others seem more irritated with you, has anyone commented that you have changed or that you have been drinking or using drugs more, has someone expressed concern about you engaging in inappropriate or unsafe behaviors, etc?
- Have there been any negative changes in your routines or lifestyle?
For example; have you given up hobbies or activities that you used to enjoy, do you visit less often with friends, do you drink or use drugs more, have you quit exercising, etc?
- In the last year, do you believe that you do not feel as well as you used to?
For example; do you think that you do not function as well physically, emotionally, or mentally; have you experienced declining health, lack of sleep, memory problems, difficulty concentrating on tasks, a general feeling of depression or unease, or anything else that has troubling to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you sense that something is wrong in your life or in your close relationships, you may want to consider talking about your concerns with someone you trust. A frank discussion with a family member, friend, or clergy may be helpful in assessing the extent of your discomfort.
Licensed Professional Counselors have a master's degree in clinical counseling and are nationally certified. They are skilled in helping individuals and families work through problems. Counselors are alert to the mental, emotional, interpersonal, and physical health issues that may be negatively affecting you. They help people use their own inherent abilities to achieve richer, more fulfilling lives.
Mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to provide high quality care that’s more affordable than other practitioners.
- According to the report, "Mental Health, United States, 2002" published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 100,000 professional counselors are licensed or certified for independent practice in the United States.
- The majority of national behavioral health managed care companies reimburse mental health counselors for services they provide.
- The median cost per session for mental health counselors is $85, compared to a median cost of $100 and $145 for psychologists and psychiatrists respectively, according to the October 2000 issue of Psychotherapy Finances.
- Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia license or certify mental health counselors for private practice.
- Mental health counselors adhere to a rigorous code of ethics.
Mental health counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for education, training and clinical practice. The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) is the professional membership organization that represents the mental health counseling profession. Clinical membership in AMHCA requires a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health field and adherence to AMHCA's National Standards for Clinical Practice.
Graduate education and clinical training prepare mental health counselors to provide a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. The core areas of mental health programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs include:
- Diagnosis and psychopathology
- Psychological testing and assessment
- Professional orientation
- Research and program evaluation
- Group counseling
- Human growth and development
- Counseling theory
- Social and cultural foundations
- Lifestyle and career development
- Supervised practicum and internship
Licensure requirements for mental health counselors are equivalent to those for clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists - two other disciplines that require a master's degree for independent status.
- A licensed mental health counselor has met or exceeded the following professional qualifications:
- Earned a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health discipline;
- Completed a minimum of two years post master's clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional; and
- Passed a state-developed or national licensure or certification examination.
Mental health counselors practice in a variety of settings, including independent practice, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, employee assistance programs and substance abuse treatment centers. Mental health counselors are highly skilled professionals who provide a full range of services including:
- Assessment and diagnosis
- Treatment planning and utilization review
- Brief and solution-focused therapy
- Alcoholism and substance abuse treatment
- Psychoeducational and prevention programs
- Crisis management
In today's managed care environment, mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of providing high quality care in a cost-effective manner. Mental health counselors provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy. They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical problem solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution.
Recent changes to the Mental Health Practice Act were enacted by the passage of House Bill 496 during the 2012 Utah legislature. The links below include a letter by Richard Oborn, Bureau Manager, Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing where he describes the following revisions to the Mental Health Practice Act:
- Change the license title "Professional Counselor" to "Clinical Mental Health Counselor" (CMHC)
- Change the license title "Associate Professional Counselor" to "Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor" (ACMHC)
- Amend the definition of 'mental health therapist' to include "Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselors"