Monday, September 10, 2012

Ask Us Anything: What Can I Expect from My Counselor?

"I have seen a counselor and also spoken to friends who have gone to counseling, and we all seem to have had the same experience. The counselor doesn't give any input but instead encourages us to talk about our problems. This talking doesn't actually solve anything, as the counselor doesn't provide guidance, just asks questions.

How do you find a counselor who will do more than facilitate a discussion? Also, what is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and what is the best source to find them (including reviews)?"

Herb Weis, Ph.D., Chief Quality and Compliance Officer at Horizon Health Services, Responds:

Counselors vary considerably regarding how much direct guidance they offer.

It is important to understand that a counselors’ role is to help clients clarify their own feelings and thoughts to manage their emotions and make healthy life decisions. The counselor’s role is akin to that of the headlights on a car – illuminating the options but not directing the choices or managing the controls. Counselors often strive to avoid clients depending too much on them for guidance or advice.

However, counselors are responsible to present alternatives that clients may not recognize, provide cautions when potential choices are risky, and provide information when they determine that it would be helpful. In choosing a counselor, it is appropriate to ask what their approach is.

Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis of mental illnesses and the prescription of medications to treat them.

Psychologists hold a doctorate in psychology, and specialize in the delivery of counseling or psychotherapy.

Often clients see psychiatrists for the prescription of medications in tandem with seeing a psychologist for psychotherapy.

There is no reliable source of ratings of psychiatrists and psychologists. The effectiveness of these clinicians is related both to their skills and client preferences. It is often wisest to ask your physician, family or friends for referrals and recommendations.

— Herb Weis, Ph.D.

Everyone struggles with day-to-day life challenges. At Horizon Health Services, they offer counseling services to help you recover from anxiety, depression and other mental health symptoms. Their goal is to improve your overall quality of life. Their mission states exactly that: Recovery. Changing Lives. Saving Lives. Horizon Health Services has offices in Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties, including at the Piver Center on the campus of Sisters Hospital.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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