Mental health counseling is a diverse profession with national standards for proficiency in education, preparation and clinical practice. The profession offers help to the ever-increasing number of Americans requiring mental therapy.
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Clinical mental health practitioners are highly-skilled professionals who provide malleable, consumer-inspired therapy. Mental health counselors provide a variety of services such as; evaluation and diagnosis, psychotherapy, solution-motivated therapy, crisis management, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.
After careful research and critical evaluation of my desired career options, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Clinical counseling with a bias in mental health counseling. This is an educational option that would propel me to become a mental health counselor in future. As for me, apart from being an excellent listener and having the will to help the neglected; it is obvious that there is an overbearing need for clinical counselors in the country as a guarantee against unemployment.
Furthermore, a nationwide survey shows that clinical counselors receive decent salary packages. Other than the money, I find the field of mental health divergent and rapidly evolving. Not much has been studied about the functioning of the brain. As a result, the methods of therapy have not been developed as well as in other fields of medicine. It is, therefore, my desire to engage in this field of study and unearth as much knowledge and information as I can within the period of my career.
The decision to apply for the clinical counseling in mental health program was mainly influenced by an internship that I had at the Carter Center of Mental Health. The center is pioneered by Former First lady Rosalynn Carter and is aimed at alleviating the stigma that is associated with mental disorders in society. In spite of growing media coverage and dispersion of information regarding mental health, myths and misinformed prejudices still persist in society regarding mental health.
At the Carter Center, I undertook volunteer internship for three months with the aim of gaining some experience on what it is to work as a psychologist. However, after making numerous rounds to countless hospitals, outpatient mental health facilities and hospices, I felt that my real calling might be in mental health counseling.
The internship was an eye opening experience on the plight faced by mental health victims such as; depressed people, victims of alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenics, people with eating disorders, personality disorders and anxiety disorder victims. After watching thousands of Americans suffering mental health disorders, I instinctively knew i had to contribute to the social welfare of this great country.
Cultural diversity, as well as cultural prejudice is present in our lives and is a fact that we have to live with and dutifully accept. It is only recently that professionals have realized that they cannot ignore the pressing issues involved in serving culturally diverse populations. Cultural values, beliefs and assumptions, are known to influence mental health workers, and other professionals in the provision of their services.
These cultural experiences, traditions, beliefs and assumptions shape the way we view the world. As such, professionals should be aware of their beliefs and strive to separate them from their jobs. Counselors and clients both bring a variety of values, attitudes, culturally assimilated behaviors, biases, beliefs and assumptions to the therapeutic process. Some mental health professionals and counselors deny the importance of these variables in the treatment process.
Personally, I consider myself culturally edified since I hail from a culturally diverse community. By virtue of living in New York for the better part of my life, I have learnt to accept and accommodate cultural pluralism and diversity. In fact, I consider cultural diversity as an essential part that colors and beautifies society.
I have interacted with culturally different people in school, stores, in my neighborhood and have come to learn that human beings are not as different as sometimes thought. We just have to treat each other with respect and accommodate other people’s beliefs, traditions and cultural customs.
In addition to the internship, my drive to mental health counseling was subconsciously motivated by a teenage experience. After the sad demise of my younger sister in a tragic surfing accident, my mother lapsed into a state of depression. She kept hallucinating and talking about seeing my sister in her dreams. This put a lot of strain on my father to keep it together on behalf of the family. Our reprieve only came after my mother agreed to visit a post-trauma counselor.
She attended meetings and had sessions with the counselor and to our surprise and joy; she was healed within six months. She coped better with the loss of her daughter and understood that she could not have done anything to save the girl.
After considering the role played by the counselor to the overall welfare of my family after that incident, I have always been thankful for the members of this noble profession. It would be my joy to pursue this career and provide joy in families and individuals by helping them to comprehend and cope with the functions of their mental faculties.
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After completing the Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling, I intend to practice for five to eight years in outpatient mental health facilities and OES designated jobs to gain extensive experience in the field of mental health counseling.
Furthermore, I will have to join member groups such as the American Psychology Association and the American Mental Health Counselor’s Association, both of which require a Master’s degree in a closely related fields and strict adherence to the provided code of ethics. Later in life, I will set up private practice in New York, New Jersey or California.