Mental health counseling or clinical counseling is a practice in psychology that helps relieve psychological disorders or distress by promoting personal development. It also practices psychotherapy, consultation, forensic investigation specifically forensic testimony, formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs for treatment of psychological dysfunction and research. Because of the nature of this field, it is usually monitored as a mental health profession.
Mental health counseling has its roots from the later part of 19th century. And as the field of psychology grew, branches began to develop, among them is counseling psychology and clinical counseling- both are useful in mental health assessment and counseling.
While closely associated with clinical psychology, there are still marked differences between the two practices.
For one, counseling psychology is used by psychotherapist and counselors to help patients with milder psychopathological concerns. On the other hand, clinical counseling deals with more severe and advance forms of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders. Examples of disorders that could be treated by counseling psychology are the stress-related disorders. In essence, these are just minor mental health illness that requires very little (if there is any) medical interventions.
This method tries to address minor psychological concerns and make use of counseling techniques. This is possible since patients subjected under this method are still in control of their mind. For example, people who are distressed due to problematic circumstances could seek the professionals who could render counseling psychology.
Counseling psychology focuses more on the personal problems of the person that hamper his mental health. It helps him resolve problems by using non-directive methods, therefore a counseling psychologist would only open options that will help resolve the problem without being suggestive or authoritative. Also, counseling psychology is more focused on rational thinking instead of unconscious functioning.
Second difference is that counseling psychology adheres to humanistic or person-centered approach. Third, it has a different view on the developmental problems associated with mental disorders.
On the other hand, clinical psychology deals more on severe psychological disorders such as clinical manic depression like unipolar and bipolar disorders, sexual dysfunctions such as exhibitionism, fetishism and sadism, phobias, traumas and substance-abuse or dependency.
Because of a more comprehensive and intensive nature of this field, clinical counseling makes use of psychological assessment tools that further confirm the symptoms of disorders among people with disrupted mental health. Mental health assessment is a medium for evaluating symptoms that a person presents. This gives insights to mental health professionals that will guide them in the preparation, administration and evaluation of treatment methods that are apt to the mental health needs of a patient. The process of assessment requires the use of interviews, physical examinations and clinical observations. Also, assessment tools such as intelligence, symptoms questionnaires, personality and neuropsychological tests are widely used. All these contribute significantly to the diagnostic impressions that will be formulated after all data are collected and studied.
Despite of these differences, counseling psychology and clinical counseling are proven to be very effective as mental health counseling methods. Both advocates the use of talk treatment that could either help resolve the problem for the mental health patient or open up indications that may be pointed out as causes of the development of the disorder. In effect, both types of counseling make mental health therapy and recovery feasible.