If you love helping people, relate well to others and have excellent communication skills, you might want to consider a career as a counseling psychologist. Counseling psychologists typically help clients deal with everyday stress, resolve crises and relationship problems, and improve their general well beings. These psychologists might work in private or group practices or in other settings, such as mental health clinics and consulting firms.
When initially meeting a client, a counseling psychologist typically conducts a type of interview to evaluate the client. During this process, she uses different assessment tools, such as observational techniques and taking case histories, to help paint a complete picture of the client's life and his reason for seeking treatment. An evaluation takes into account all the biological, psychological, physical and social issues that have an impact on the client including medical issues, family background and previous experiences with treatment.
Based on the results of the evaluation, a counseling psychologist will collaborate with her client to formulate a treatment plan -- which is like a plan of attack. The psychologist comes up with the best method to address the client's issues with a focus on resolving the most pressing problems causing distress. She will discuss her treatment recommendations with the client. They then decide on specific information pertaining to treatment, such as scheduling, insurance or self-payment and other concrete concerns.
Providing psychotherapy is one of the main responsibilities of a counseling psychologist. Psychotherapy is a broad term used to describe different methods of talk therapy. Some types of psychotherapies include cognitive therapy, which focuses on getting the client to confront or challenge erroneous thoughts by suggesting other ways to view situations; behavior therapy focuses on helping the client understand how changing his behavior can eventually lead to changes in how he's feeling; and family therapy typically involves discussion and problem-solving sessions with a client and other family members.
Sometimes, with the client's permission, a counseling psychologist will consult with outside parties, such as physicians, psychiatrists, social services agencies or educators, to help gain a broader understanding of a problem. She might discuss her treatment recommendations with the other parties, as well as the client's progress in therapy. On a professional level, counseling psychologists also consult with other counseling psychologists in peer supervisory sessions or during educational seminars and conferences. They may use these opportunities to discuss problems they're having with a particular case, or to obtain information and advice about certain treatment methods.
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