How Can a Mental Health Counselor Help?

It’s important to seek help and engage with a mental health counselor for quality treatment. Learn more about mental health counseling below.

What Is a Mental Health Counselor?

The mental health service is filled with many professionals, and mental health counselors play a great role in this field. Licensed counselors often use different therapeutic approaches to provide guidance and support through emotional or mental distress.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselor Definition

A mental health counselor is a health professional that assesses and diagnoses different kinds of emotional and mental illnesses. Mental health counseling involves identifying the main issues that cause emotional or mental distress to provide healthy coping strategies. It is often compared to other professions, such as clinical psychology.1

Mental Health Counselor vs. Clinical Psychologist

Mental health counselors and clinical psychologists are both licensed mental health professionals. Both careers involve understanding human behavior to provide coping mechanisms for different individual struggles. Clinical psychologists perform specialized cognitive tests to assess neurological function. But a mental health counselor focuses on situational triggers that can affect mental health.2

Mental Health Counselor vs. Therapist

The primary difference between a mental health therapist and a mental health counselor is that therapists offer long-term support. A licensed mental health counselor typically works with several sessions and focuses on immediate life challenges. But therapists offer in-depth mental health work through ongoing sessions. 

Where Does a Mental Health Counselor Work?

There are several settings where one can find a certified mental health counselor, including: 

  • Hospitals
  • Mental health clinics
  • Community health centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Schools
  • Private practices

How Can a Mental Health Counselor Help?

A licensed mental health counselor uses different psychotherapy approaches to treat psychological distress. Seeing a mental health counselor can help with the following struggles:


Counselors help patients work through overwhelming anxiety and suggest healthy stress-coping mechanisms. 


Mental health counselors also help to assess factors that may be causing sadness or a lack of motivation when life seems unmanageable. 

Substance Abuse

A substance abuse counselor provides care and counseling for individuals struggling with addiction or substance abuse challenges. 

Sexual Dysfunction

Mental health counseling can be useful in learning the specific conditions that can lead to strained sexual relationships. 

Eating Disorders

Many people suffer from eating disorders that can lead to fatal health complications. As a mental health specialist, a counselor can help patients overcome low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and other factors that can cause eating disorders. 

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders help individuals understand their feelings and identify issues affecting their self-image.  

Other Conditions

Mental health counseling can help someone through grief or loss, phobias, OCD, and general conditions. 

Techniques That Mental Health Counselors Use

Generally, mental health counselors provide psychotherapy sessions for different mental health conditions. This mental health specialist focuses on psychotherapy and problem-solving mechanisms that help manage the client’s problem. Mental health counselors may suggest exercises that involve:3

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Counselors can target preventive measures by promoting healthy exercises that impact one’s mental health. Such lifestyle changes can involve a balanced diet, exercise, or positive social interactions to improve the client’s mental health. This is extremely important when it comes to overall production and quality of life. 

Identifying Personal Stressors and Levels of Functioning

Mental health counselors are also trained in identifying natural stressors and cognitive limitations that can cause difficulty in functioning. They can diagnose mental disorders and focus on therapy to help manage the situation. 

Preserving or Restoring Mental Health

Mental health counselors are trained to help people overcome trauma, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other obstacles affecting their well-being. 

Different Types of Psychotherapy That Mental Health Counselors May Specialize In

Mental health providers, including counselors, usually focus on different approaches to addressing an individual or group’s mental or emotional distress. Being a mental health specialist, the counselor may specialize in various therapies; these will be detailed below.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Some mental health clinicians conduct cognitive behavioral therapy as psychological treatment. Mental health professionals often use it for depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and severe mental illnesses. CBT focuses on strategies to people change thinking patterns and unlearn toxic coping strategies.4

A mental health counselor can assist their clients in reevaluating specific behavioral patterns and lifestyle habits to boost motivation and self-confidence. CBT counselors emphasize examining the most recent issues in a person’s life rather than past circumstances. It involves conducting exercises and helping individuals develop problem-solving skills that help them cope with life.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Several mental health counselors specialize in psychodynamic therapy for treating various mental and emotional conditions. A mental health counselor uses psychodynamic therapy to help people understand how they think, feel and act.5

It emphasizes self-reflection, insight, and emotional growth to respond to mental distress. The core principles of psychodynamic therapy involve identifying patterns, understanding emotions, and improving relationships. Psychodynamic therapy is often used to treat depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and interpersonal relationships.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) directs interpersonal relationships and social interactions, which tend to impact your mental health. It adapts the theory that problems like depression can result from toxic personal relationships. Mental health counselors help clients engage in IPT exercises that improve interpersonal interaction with others.6

Other Therapies

A licensed mental health counselor may also be trained in providing other forms of psychotherapy, including: 

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Mentalization-based therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Emotion therapy
Mental Health Counselor

Find a Mental Health Counselor at Essence Healthcare

Essence Healthcare offers a diverse range of mental health services in its patient-centered wellness facility. It consists of multifaceted mental health professionals that provide comprehensive counseling and psychotherapy to help people treat mental and emotional distress. Many people get nervous around the first counseling session, but knowing what to expect can make things easier. 

What to Expect During a Mental Health Counseling Session?

The mental health counselor will focus on building rapport with the client during the first few sessions to understand the individual’s background. A mental health counseling session usually lasts about 40-45 minutes and involves an intentional conversation between the counselor and the client. 

How Many Sessions Would I Need?

Many counseling experts believe that about 12-16 sessions are enough to achieve an improved mental health condition. Mental health counseling is based on short-term care involving practical exercises to help you reach your goals. Get help today!

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.