Comprehensive Clinical Services, P.C. » Careers in Mental Health

Careers in Mental Health

What do I want to be when I grow up? I’m sure this is a question we all have asked ourselves since childhood. To this day, I still ask myself the same question. Hello. My name is Carolina Chaidez. Thank you for taking the time to visit this page. This particular webpage is the product of my internship at CCS. I am a recent college graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. Like many, I now ask myself, “I have my B.A., now what?” I have come far in my education, why go on? Well, I hear that by continuing my education I will learn more skills, have better job opportunities, higher income potential, and I will become a more knowledgeable individual.

I came to CCS with the idea that I wanted a career in mental health, but I am unsure of what exact path to take. Not knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life can be unnerving, but your strengths and interests can help lead you in some direction. Like some, I have always had an interest in working with children and adolescents from various backgrounds. The fact that I am also bilingual is important and I am happy because I intend on keeping up with my Spanish in whatever field I ultimately choose. Other interests that I have are music and art. What could I possibly do with that? Well, there are a few options, such as an Art and or Music Therapy. So, even though I may not know what I would like to do with my degree in psychology, there are several different vocations to choose from. I have heard of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, etc., but it all means the same to the non-professional. CCS has opened its doors and has invited me to start writing about what I learn and to put together this project for the benefit of others; that is, for those of you who find themselves in my same shoes.

I encourage you to read on, send me your questions, and follow with me as we learn about careers and ourselves, as we all try to discover our true passions, likes and dislikes. I am hoping this information will help us all make decisions during these very important years of our formation.

I have my B.A in Psychology, now what? Psychology is a very broad field of study. One is able to further their career by continuing ones’ education by going for a Masters Degree, a Ph.D., an M.D., or J.D.. I would now like to share with you what I learned about the differences between a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, and therapist because by knowing the differences, you can better decide what type of degree to obtain. They all seem like the same thing, but they have enormous differences. What I have learned thus far is…

What is a Psychologist?

Dr. Mozdzierz, PhD, a Psychologist at CCS, explains that “a Psychologist collaborates with human beings to solve problems, and with people who have problems with themselves and or others. They are a consultant; they have the knowledge of human behavior, maturation, perception, learning, neural biology, emotions.” Psychologists may work with people and conduct research. A psychologist can spend their time in research, which adds to their knowledge of behavior and develops new ways of understanding behavior, and helps people and institutions change their behavior, structure, or functions. Psychologists may also spend more time working with people, studying them by examining records of what they have done or by talking with them in order to help them modify their behavior, change the methods of their organizations, or put their resources to better use (Super and Super, 5).

A type of Psychologist is a School Psychologist; they have functioned as Clinical Psychologists in an educational setting. They are concerned with problems of adjustment, mental health, and school achievement, primarily in elementary schools (Super and Super, 45).

Where Psychologists work:
– Colleges and Universities
– Private Practice
– Hospital and clinics
– Public Schools and other nonprofit organizations
– Business and Industry
– Government Agencies

Want to find out more, check this source:

Super, Charles M., & Donald E. Super, Ph.D. (2001). Opportunities in Psychology Careers.

VGM Career Books.

What is a Psychiatrist?

A Psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychology and is certified in treating mental disorders. As part of their evaluation of the patient, psychiatrists are one of a select few mental health professionals who may prescribe psychiatric medication, conduct physical examinations, and order and interpret laboratory tests and/or brain imaging studies. Psychiatrists can also go through training to conduct psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. After having the opportunity to speak to, Dr. Daniel Martinez, M.D (medical doctor), a Psychiatrist at CCS, explained to me that, “a Psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in the brain, emotions, and behavior. A Psychiatrist is a doctor that prescribes medicine that helps improve brain function. They evaluate and detect problems, such as neurochemical problems from brain chemistry, emotional, behavioral, social and maybe even cultural or spiritual problems.”

Dr. Martinez explains that, “as a Psychiatrist, it is difficult convincing people that there are many conditions that are very treatable with various medications, and the fact that there are people who think that psychiatrists only work with ‘crazy people’.” Seeing a psychiatrist doesn’t mean your crazy.

What is a Counselor?

A counselor gives and provides counsel and advise. A counselor serves as a guide to ones self. Counselors assist people with personal, family, educational, mental health, and career problems. Their duties vary greatly depending on their occupational specialty, which is determined by the setting in which they work and the population they serve. To become a counselor requires years of education and supervision, just like any other mental health career or any other career at that.

A counselor is also an L.C.P.C, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. To become an L.C.P.C you need a masters in psychology or a field that involves counseling. Maria Valdez, L.C.P.C at CCS, got her masters in Counseling Psychology at Northern Illinois University. Ms. Valdez mentioned that NIU offers areas you can get your masters in, they are, School Counseling, Clinical Counseling, and Higher Education Counseling. Just know that programs vary by school. She explained to me that as an L.C.P.C, you look more at the pathology of an individual, what the problem is, how it can be fixed, and what resources can be use. As an L.C.P.C she added that the treatment plan is to look at the problem, attack it, and go from there. Maria told me, “every case brings something new, even from week to week”.

This goes for all mental health careers, “The more a client sees you and the more comfortable they become, the more they communicate with you.” – M.V.- L.C.P.C

Where Counselors work:
– Schools / Colleges
– Private Practice
– Community Health Organization
– Hospitals

Counselor Types:

School Counselors (Elementary/High School) help students evaluate their abilities, interests, talents, and personalities to develop realistic academic and career goals. Career Counselor
Rehabilitation Counselors help people deal with personal, social, and vocational effects of disabilities
Mental Health Counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to promote mental health.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors help people who have problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, and eating disorders.

To read more about Counselors take a look at the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition.

Another mental health career that is semi-similar to a counselor is and L.C.S.W, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

What is a Social Worker?

A social worker assists people by helping them cope with issues in their everyday lives, from their social to emotional functioning. They work to help individuals deal with their relationships, and solve personal and family problems. After speaking with Rachel Mikula, L.C.S.W at CCS, she explained that, “As a social worker, the environment dictates what you may deal with and how to respond to situations.” She also explained to me that social workers work to advance the social conditions of a community, especially of the disadvantaged, by providing counseling, guidance, and assistance in the form of social services; i.e., better the community, improve conditions of the poor, and/or promote welfare of children.

Where Social Workers can work:

– Community Mental Health Centers
– Hospital
– Schools
– Non-for Profit Organizations / Community Organizations
– Churches
– Private Clinics (once licensed)
– At CCS I spoke to Deepak Santhiraj who has been working/interning along side Dr. Martinez at CCS, and who is working on finishing his Masters of Social Work and close to becoming an L.C.S.W, and he provided me with these websites, which I found very informational. If you are interested in social work, please check these out.

What is a Therapist?

A therapist works to help address the issues of those with emotional difficulties or mental health issues. There are different types of therapists, and each works in a particular type of therapy. Therapists can work to help guide patients to become social and build confidence. They can work in hospitals, nursing homes, community mental health centers or other health facilities and agencies.

To give you an idea here are a few types of Therapists that I have come across in my research: (roles and responsibilities may overlap)
– Music Therapy: Musical therapy is a creative treatment that uses music for therapy purposes, such as singing or playing instrument with or for client. Music can draw out a response from, for example a child who previously didn’t respond to other kinds of stimulus. As in Art, Dance, and Play therapies, these forms of therapy allow the individual to express themselves in a way that they were not capable of doing in previous treatments.
– Recreational Therapy: a therapist plans activities that will improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of patients. Activities may include sports, art, dance, music.
Play Therapy: Like music, dance, and art, play therapy is similar to these types of therapies for playing also allows a client to express themselves, their emotions through playing with toys or games. I.e. Dolls, puppets, board games, playing in sandbox. Etc.
Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy allows the therapist to use a productive or creative activity in the treatment or rehabilitation of physically or emotionally disabled individuals. It is a therapy based on engagement in meaningful activities of daily life, especially to enable or encourage a client’s participation in activities no matter their impairments or limitations in physical or mental functions.
– Speech/ Language Therapist: Speech therapy is intended to correct a disorder of speech. A Speech/Language therapist is a therapist that works with clients on language development and or pronouncing sounds. They can work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, clinics, private practice.

Thus far in my past internships and observations I have learned that no two clients are the same. Expressing one self through art, dance, sports, music, etc. helps a person stay in touch with their feelings and guides them to self-assess their own emotions. I found that different therapy types are not all suitable for every client and therefore it is the therapist’s responsibility to use a variety of therapeutic interventions to help their clients with relaxation training techniques, behavior modification and management, counseling, and meditation. Therapists work to accommodate the client in finding the right therapy type, whether it is through verbal communication, dancing, drawing, playing/listening to music, playing, etc.

I may have not included many types of therapy an individual can get into, but these were a few that I have researched myself and have looked into.

I am hoping you have found the information that I have provided useful, if I have not included something that you were interested in, feel free to let me know, post comments. If you are still interested in learning more about a counselor, psychiatrist, therapist, or psychologist I have provided resources that I myself found very useful, and maybe you may find them to be interesting, useful, and hopefully helpful. Feel free to check them out.

Helpful Resources:

Talking to the real Professional in the field (very useful)

Perry, Philip A. (1996). Opportunities in Mental Health Careers. Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Horizons , NTC Publishing Group.

Super, PhD, Charles M. and Donald E. Super, Ph.D. (2001). Opportunities in Psychology Careers. Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Books.

Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition

This particular website provides you with different types of jobs. I found this to be useful and informational as well. The Occupational Outlook Handbook tells you:

– the training and education needed
– earnings
– expected job prospects
– what workers do on the job
– working conditions

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