At one time or another, most people have to deal with a crisis, a tragedy,
a divorce or some type of ordeal. It can often be difficult to cope. Many
people get by on their own, but many others need help in getting through the
low points in their lives. Often, people turn to mental health therapists
to deal with their troubles.
Mental therapist is a general term for people who work in the mental health
profession. They also go by job titles such as mental health workers, mental
health counselors and marriage, family and child counselors. All of these
specialists deal with improving a person's peace of mind.
When a person goes to visit a mental health therapist, they usually sit
opposite the desk from the therapist for an initial interview. "It's no longer
the Freudian model with the client on the couch," says Jason Saffer, a mental
health therapist in California.
After the therapist gets a case history and background information about
the patient, they will devise a schedule of treatment and begin the healing
process -- either through emotional healing or with medication. Sometimes
mental health therapists must hospitalize patients who aren't fit to look
After each session, the therapist takes notes on the case and the patient's
progress. "This helps get my thinking clear," says Saffer.
"Therapists see a number of people a week and it's important to keep a
good reminder of the session." They usually spend 10 minutes after each session
recording their observations and recommendations.
Therapists spend time accessing a patient's eligibility for social assistance
or insurance, and sometimes refer patients to other therapists. Therapists
also give life skills courses.
Therapists can work at a variety of locations, although most of their work
is done in an office setting. They can work for large institutions such as
hospitals and therapy clinics, or they can run their own private clinics.
They can also work for private companies, the government, the military
and nonprofit organizations.
Therapists generally work their hours around patients' schedules. This
means that they have to be willing to work outside of 9-to-5 office hours.
This is a job well suited to physically challenged people. "I knew a therapist
who had a condition that meant he always had to lie prone," says Saffer. "He
saw people in a mirror that reflected their images to each other."
Someone who is hearing impaired may be better able to assist a deaf patient,
either by using sign language or by simply better understanding the patient's
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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
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