What is a Counseling Psychologist?

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The counseling psychologist fulfills a vital role in the therapy community. While many are generally familiar with what they do and how they interact with those in need, individuals interested in pursuing a career in this field may want more detail. To that end, the article below explores the essential functions of this professional calling and illuminates what is often a vague understanding of the discipline.

Broadly Defined, Specifically Applied

Counseling psychology is considered a defined subfield of the study and practice of the larger realm of psychology. However, while those who pursue a career within it do learn specific tactics and approaches to their craft, the counseling psychologist works in a variety of places, spaces, and contexts, according to the American Psychological Association. Their main goal is the healthy maintenance of personal and interpersonal interactions. However they may work with otherwise healthy individuals, those overcoming or coping with a variety of mental and physical disabilities or individuals engaged in long-term physical therapy.

Within their discipline is a flexibility that permits application of their skills in almost any context. They engage with patients and patient families, applying aspects of their education in order to facilitate healthy communication, identify stressors and underlying issues that may not be apparent to the individual, and work to resolve tensions of internal or interpersonal natures.

How They Help

Counseling psychology offers practitioners a wealth of insight into human dynamics, whether they assist individuals coping with cultural stressors or counsel couples or groups in order to resolve conflicts, according to Society of Counseling Psychology. They may work with any age group, assist individuals or groups from any cultural context, and even form a vital part of a disaster response team.

Some of their special areas of knowledge touch upon the interplay of dynamic multicultural contexts, cultural influences such as perceived gender norms or peer pressure to conform, and readily identifying the existing strengths of clients in order to build upon them in therapy sessions. But their most valuable asset is their ability to connect with clients. They foster a healthy and safe medium for open communication and self-honesty for individuals, which allows for healing or assessment of problematic elements.

Within the therapeutic context, these psychologists assist individuals, couples and groups with a variety of concerns. Stress at work or in school, organizational difficulties, social connection, self-conceptualization, substance abuse, and adjusting to changed life circumstances as a result of an injury or illness diagnosis are only a few of the ways in which counseling psychologists assist patients. They are often called upon to assist in crisis intervention, test construction and assessment of result validity, research, clinical oversight, organizational consultation, and even providing instructional lectures or workshops to other practitioners of therapy-giving organizations. They may even elect to add an element of service to their list of qualifications by working with low-income individuals and groups to provide therapy otherwise unobtainable to many who need it most.

Related Resource: What is a Rehabilitation Psychologist?

Ultimately, their role within modern society is one of connectivity and communication. They assist individuals in coping with the stressors of modern culture, help couples and groups see eye to eye, and provide essential relief to individuals or populations who have experienced dire events, whether the unexpected death of a coworker or classmate or PTSD impacts for survivors of disaster, war, and personal violence. The hats worn by a counseling psychologist are many and may change multiple times within their professional lifetimes, but it is clear that modern culture could not function smoothly without them.