Counseling Psychology is a specialty within professional psychology which focuses on physical, emotional, and mental health issues. It addresses social, work, school, and physical health concerns that people have at different stages in their lives. It looks at how people function both personally and interpersonally, and finds that mental health is often linked to meaningful work, relationships, and overall sense of self. Counseling Psychologists will often help patients reduce feelings of distress, improve their sense of well-being, and resolve times of crisis. They provide assistance with diagnoses such as depression and anxiety. Therapy appointments vary of duration and frequency and can take the form of individual, family or group sessions.
Counseling Psychology separates itself from others schools of psychology. Practitioners focus on a person’s strengths rather than deficits and help people to utilize such strengths in their work/career and relationships. They recognize that our various identities (race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc.) all interact. Helping a person understand their cultural make-up is a critical step on the path to mental health. And Counseling Psychologists look at people through a developmental lens. We perceive life’s issues differently depending on our age. Consequently, people cope with stress differently at various life stages. This area of psychology focuses on a person age, and understands their concerns relative to their age, abilities, and support system.
People who live with headache, stroke, traumatic brain injury/concussion, MS, or Parkinson’s disease often experience emotional and behavioral changes. Counseling Psychologists use various approaches (e.g. psychodynamic, humanistic, and behavioral) to help patients. Cognitive (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral (DBT) Therapy focus on helping patients relinquish thinking patterns that have led to problematic behaviors/beliefs in favor of more productive approaches. For instance, people experiencing pain may think that they have no control over their suffering aside from medications and doctor’s visits. Counseling Psychologists would help them think about their pain differently, and might prescribe certain coping skills to help them distract themselves from the pain and avoid pain triggers.