To become a licensed counselor, someone must complete a master's degree in counseling and then complete hands-on work as a counselor (under supervision). The number of required hours of hands-on training varies by state. Many counselors specialize in addiction treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, and the majority receive training in psychotherapy techniques. In terms of substance abuse issues, where therapists deal specifically with healing the root causes of a person's addiction (childhood, trauma background, etc.), counselors deal with the current day-to-day needs of the person. This involves what's called case management, which can include things like housing (which halfway house are you eligible for, or where are you going to live after you get out of a treatment center?); child care (how can you you get your child back if custody is jeopardized by addiction issues?); employment services (informing you about job placement programs), etc. Many times, counselors can also help with interventions, whereas most therapists do not.
A master of science (MS) is an advanced degree, usually in the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, agriculture and computer science. There are multiple MS degree program options in the fields of mental health, psychology and counseling. A master's degree is often required to become a licensed therapist, counselor or social worker. Someone with an MS in mental health counseling might practice as a rehabilitation counselor working with patients struggling with substance abuse or addiction. MS programs vary by the college or university, but typically involve hands-on learning.
A Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is someone licensed by a state board to provide professional counseling and mental health therapy. A licensed mental health counselor must have a master's degree in counseling or psychology. Mental health counselors often provide both individual and group counseling. Some mental health counselors focus on helping individuals overcome substance abuse or addiction. Working with a mental health counselor can be very beneficial for someone struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. Some counselors are trained in helping families and loved ones stage an intervention.
License Number provided by State: LH60637744 Washington
School: Walden University
Years of Experience: 5 Years
Year Graduated: 2011
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Family Counseling can be for both the addict and his/her family, or may be solely for family members (without the addict present). Many support groups for family members of addicts see addiction as a family illness, not just the problem of one member of the family (the addict). Numerous research studies also demonstrate that recovery is far more successful and sustainable when loved ones -- especially family members -- participate in rehab and/or substance abuse treatment. Family support groups are also helpful since family members relating with an addict often need support themselves; it's a very stressful thing to deal with. Family support groups allow all members of the family to receive the benefits of treatment, and can include training on how to communicate effectively, establish healthy boundaries, and get support around the stress and trauma of addiction.
In individual Counseling, a client meets one-on-one with a trained therapist or counselor. This kind of psychotherapy and focused attention is a crucial part of treating substance abuse and helping individuals overcome alcohol and drug addiction. Therapy can be instrumental in uncovering the root causes of addiction, such as challenges and struggles a patient has faced in their family, social, and work/school lives. Once these root causes (which often involve past trauma) are identified and worked through, substance abuse is much easier to overcome and sobriety to be reached. Different therapists use different therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which has been shown to be effective in stopping addiction while also providing tools for maintaining sobriety.
Couples Counseling, or couples-focused treatment programs, involve both partners in a relationship. Substance abuse (alcohol or drug addiction) has major effects on both partners within a relationship, and the purpose of couples treatment is to address both sides. For example, if a husband is an alcoholic, his wife is impacted by his addiction and his behaviors. He, in turn, is impacted by her reaction and response to them. Many couples dealing with addiction also struggle with codependency, which can enable or even make the addictive behavior worse. In couples therapy, patterns like codependency are explained and explored, with the goal of both partners learning how to communicate and connect in healthy ways, and establish healthy boundaries with one another. In addition to addiction, rehabilitation and recovery also affects and changes a relationship. Couples-focused treatment allows partners to explore the triggers of addiction, as well as learning how to build a healthy support system while maintaining sobriety.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse:
A combined mental health and substance abuse treatment center is designed to treat individuals with both mental health and substance abuse issues. Therapists and staff at these kinds of centers help patients who struggle with both a drug and alcohol addiction, along with a mental health problem like clinical depression, anxiety disorders, Bipolar Disorder, and more. They're trained to help patients identify the root causes of their addiction and mental health issues, and to help manage both. Many addiction counselors specialize in treating individuals with mental health problems, and are well-equipped to deliver high-quality treatment to those struggling from addiction alongside a mental health issue.
Dual diagnosis refers to the diagnosis given to a person or patient who struggles with addiction and has also been diagnosed with a mental or emotional illness. To treat someone with a dual diagnosis, rehab centers and other mental health facilities aim to provide comprehensive treatment for both the substance abuse and mental illness. At these facilities, counselors and therapists work with dual-diagnosis patients to help them manage their mental health problems and overcome addiction at the same time. Common co-occurring substance abuse and mental illnesses can include drug addiction or alcoholism alongside clinical depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and more. In some cases, a mental health illness can lead to an addiction issue, or vice versa: an addiction issue can create a mental health issue. It's important to treat both at the same time whenever possible.
Co-Dependency refers to a relationship in which one person sacrifices their own wants and needs to "fix" or support the other partner. In a codependent relationship, love and intimacy are often experienced as one partner in distress, while the other partner "rescues" or enables them. Codependency can lead to substance abuse and addiction, and codependents may be less likely to seek help for their issues, as they tend to be the "helpers" in relationships. The term love addiction is used to describe a compulsive or constant pursuit of romantic love as a way to feel secure and worthy.
Depression is a serious mood disorder. Signs and symptoms of depression include: fatigue, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, lack of interest in activities a person used to enjoy, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. A depressed person might feel sad, anxious, or hopeless. Typically, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks before someone is diagnosed with clinical depression. Depression can affect people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. An estimated 30% of people with substance abuse problems suffer from depression.
Following the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel sad or experience grief. Typically, someone who is grieving will go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While grief is a natural response to loss, using alcohol or drugs to deal with one’s feelings is not a healthy way to cope. Using drugs and alcohol to manage or soothe feelings of grief could lead to substance abuse or addiction. Unresolved grief — and the depression that follows — could leave someone more vulnerable to developing a substance abuse problem.
PTSD and Trauma:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that someone can develop after experiencing a traumatic incident, such as a shooting, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault (i.e. rape or child sexual abuse). Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event in one's mind; nightmares; avoiding situations that might trigger memories of the event; negative beliefs and feelings; and feeling jittery, angry or irritable. The main types of treatment for PTSD are psychotherapy and medication. Someone suffering from PTSD may experience depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems.
Assertive Community Treatment:
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a type of treatment that helps people with a serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. ACT brings pyschiatric treatment and services directly to patients at home. Instead of hospitalization or an outpatient treatment program, a team of staff members, like social workers, psychiatrists, and counselors, comes directly to a patient's house for treatment. A patient in an ACT program receives the 24-hour care and services of a pychiatric unit, but in the comfort of their own home. ACT is mainly used for those with severe and persistent mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Some patients with these serious mental health issues also struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction. ACT can be short-term (several weeks) or long-term (months or years). One of the goals of ACT is to help patients live independently and lessen the burden on families to provide care.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common therapy technique. This type of therapy focuses on the relationship between a person's thoughts, feelings and behaviors. For example, if you know that when you have the thought, "I'm worthless," you want to drink or do drugs, you can then make a new choice in the future when you have that thought (like calling a friend or going for a walk instead). Awareness is critical in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the ultimate goal of which is to help patients develop healthy responses to their thoughts and feelings. CBT has been proven very helpful for people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, as well other mental health issues, like eating disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps a person become more self-aware and build up their ability to cope with problems in healthier ways. Many therapists, counselors, psychologists, and social workers use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques when working with their patients.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy:
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is type of therapy that helps someone understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings and actions. Once a person understands this relationship, they can work on changing their behaviors and dealing with their problems in healthier ways. Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been proven clinically effective for people struggling with out-of-control emotions and some mental illnesses, like Borderline Personality Disorder. This type of therapy can also be helpful for individuals dealing with self-harm, such as self-mutilation (cutting) or having suicidal thoughts or urges. Dialectical Behavior Therapy often builds on the techniques and tools a patient learned in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), one of the most common types of therapy.
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