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Deciding between Mental Health Counseling vs Therapy 2021

As the understanding of the ‘mental health’ sphere moves forward, the vast ocean of information can often be overwhelming for people looking to get help. To find the suitable professional and mental health service is as important as picking the suitable physician. With the progress of destigmatizing mental health talk today, receiving accurate and timely information can be incredibly helpful for people. Whether you are planning to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist or any other type of mental health professional, this article hopes to clarify what each service entails before you invest into it. Typically, we see counseling and therapy being used interchangeably – which has created a kind of ‘information gap’ among people and continues to confuse them when it comes to choosing the service that fits their needs the best.

mental health counseling vs mental health therapy

What is Mental Health Counseling

Mental Health Counseling, or counseling, can broadly be explained as working with a mental health counselor or clinical mental health counselor on a specific issue within a time limit. For instance, counseling can help problems between a married couple through combined counseling sessions with the spouses. Similarly, counseling can also help people having difficulty in managing stress and want guidance on tools you can use when you are stressed out. Usually, counseling focuses on spending the limited time on a very specific issue. 

What is Therapy?

Mental Health Therapy, or therapy, is known to be a long-term process and focuses on an individual — how they see themselves and the world, their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, as well as the underlying patterns of why people do the things they do. For instance, if an individual “A” is diagnosed with anxiety disorder, “A” and his mental health therapist can explore how the anxiety affects his everyday life, as well as work to develop better coping mechanisms to recover. Therapy is also a longer commitment in terms of time, in contrast to counseling. It can even include counseling on specific issues that arise during your conversations with your therapist. Whereas, during the course of a session(s), if a counselor notices underlying patterns and problems that influence the problem at hand, they may recommend you to look into therapy. 

How do professions who provide counseling vs Therapy differ? Why has it been difficult to look into it myself?

There are many clinicians who are trained in both therapy and counseling, with a single institution providing either service. By nature, psychiatry, and psychology are overlapping as professions. We term the practitioners in both—psychiatrists and psychologists as mental health professionals. It is also common for them to work together to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental illness. It is a common commitment for them to help people stay mentally well.

There are, however, clear differences between psychiatry and psychology—although other people generally notice those differences to be confusing, particularly when they are searching for help. To create even more confusion, psychiatrists, and psychologists are not the sole mental state professionals people are able to select from. There are social workers, nurses and practitioners, etc. who take care of problems with mental health of individuals. And focusing on the multiple approaches to treatment, starting from guidance to varied sorts of psychotherapy, the full mental state system begins to appear sort of a maze that is absurdly difficult to navigate. Issues with mental state, particularly if they are chronic (persistent or recurring), are often exhausting and take up longer periods of time to treat. 

Your body will respond physically to depression or anxiety very like it will to physical ailment. In several cases, mental illnesses are due to some sort of physical condition. This would mean, the first person to visit is your physician or medical-care doctor. They will, by procedure, ask about your symptoms, it’s duration and pattern of recurrence. Your doctor will also check for physical conditions that could be causing the symptoms, and then help decide what type of professional and what kind of mental health service might be best for you.

I’m nervous since it is my first time in a session. What can I expect on my first day and beyond?

During your preliminary visit, the mental health professional will inquire to you about why you think you need to come to the counseling or therapy sessions. They will also ask about the symptoms you’re exhibiting, the duration of said symptoms, and what measures have you taken so far in order to get better. It is also most likely for them to ask you about your family and your work, as well as what you do to relieve stress and relax during leisure. 

This primary conversation is necessary to develop the right approach to treatment. Before leaving the session, the mental health professional should elaborate to you the plan for treatment of the problems, as well as give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have. Most likely, it will take several weeks before you become fully comfortable with your sessions and the professional—although it isn’t uncommon for people to adapt to it early. However, if you still aren’t feeling comfortable after some visits, it is important to let the mental health professional know and elaborate on why you feel that way. These sessions are always a two-way effort, and it is necessary to work together as a team in order to get the most out of the treatment.

There are, however, clear differences between psychiatry and psychology—although other people generally notice those differences to be confusing, particularly when they are searching for help. To create even more confusion, psychiatrists, and psychologists are not the sole mental state professionals people are able to select from. There are social workers, nurses and practitioners, etc. who take care of problems with mental health of individuals. And focusing on the multiple approaches to treatment, starting from guidance to varied sorts of psychotherapy, the full mental state system begins to appear sort of a maze that is absurdly difficult to navigate. Issues with mental state, particularly if they are chronic (persistent or recurring), are often exhausting and take up longer periods of time to treat. 

Your body will respond physically to depression or anxiety very like it will to physical ailment. In several cases, mental illnesses are due to some sort of physical condition. This would mean, the first person to visit is your physician or medical-care doctor. They will, by procedure, ask about your symptoms, it’s duration and pattern of recurrence. Your doctor will also check for physical conditions that could be causing the symptoms, and then help decide what type of professional and what kind of mental health service might be best for you.

To Conclude

The choice of finding the right therapist or counselor for you isn’t going to be something like the letters after their name. It’s almost always about whether you feel comfortable with them and work off well with their personality and counseling/therapy style. It might be an arduous process of trial and error, since finding the best mental health professional for you is kind of like dating: You might have to sit through a few bad ones before finding ‘the one’. What is most significant to understand is that the process of recovery and getting better is a gradual and slow one – identifying what you need and what works best for you, as well as answering ‘who can provide that for me’, is vital. As daunting as this may seem, it all starts with a step forward.

There are, however, clear differences between psychiatry and psychology—although other people generally notice those differences to be confusing, particularly when they are searching for help. To create even more confusion, psychiatrists, and psychologists are not the sole mental state professionals people are able to select from. There are social workers, nurses and practitioners, etc. who take care of problems with mental health of individuals. And focusing on the multiple approaches to treatment, starting from guidance to varied sorts of psychotherapy, the full mental state system begins to appear sort of a maze that is absurdly difficult to navigate. 

Issues with mental state, particularly if they are chronic (persistent or recurring), are often exhausting and take up longer periods of time to treat. Your body will respond physically to depression or anxiety very like it will to physical ailment. In several cases, mental illnesses are due to some sort of physical condition. This would mean, the first person to visit is your physician or medical-care doctor. They will, by procedure, ask about your symptoms, it’s duration and pattern of recurrence. Your doctor will also check for physical conditions that could be causing the symptoms, and then help decide what type of professional and what kind of mental health service might be best for you.

Written By:

Pradatta Thakuri

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