It's easy to get through the good times on our own. But when the times
get tough, we might need someone to help us handle life's challenges.
Whether it's a breakup, the death of a loved one, depression, stress or
some other type of crisis, mental health therapists are there to assist those
Mental health 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.
"As one gains more understanding of the kinds of issues that humans commonly
experience over the years, then you begin to have a sense of what people need
in order to make it through challenging experiences," says mental health therapist
"Whether it's a relationship experience, a marital issue or problem, whether
it's a coping with loss or other kind of problem or issue, it's very gratifying
to be able to help that person work through that issue and benefit from the
interaction, and see them actually make progress," says Keeran.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are also mental health professionals, but
these are protected titles. Only people with the required licensing and training
can call themselves a psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychologists normally
have a PhD, while psychiatrists are medical doctors with an MD.
By contrast, anyone can use the terms therapist and counselor (for example,
you might see "financial counselors" at your bank). Therapists aren't required
to be licensed in most jurisdictions. However, a big advantage of being licensed
is that insurance companies may reimburse your clients for the services you
At their initial meeting with a client, a therapist will get a case history
and background information about the patient. They will then devise a schedule
of treatment and begin the healing process. After each session, the therapist
takes notes on the case and the patient's progress.
Therapists may spend time accessing a patient's eligibility for social
assistance or insurance, and sometimes refer patients to other therapists.
Therapists can 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.
It can be difficult to leave your work at the office when you're a therapist.
Always thinking about your clients' problems can lead to burnout. "I do
think there really is [a risk of burnout] because some of the issues are so
intense that we're working with," says therapist Trisha Swinton.
Swinton says therapists can manage stress by having a good network of friends,
as well as other therapists, with whom to brainstorm and debrief. She says
therapists need to, "[M]ake sure they have some good outlets for keeping their
own stress and anxiety down, and not to... bring home these issues to your
own personal life."
This is a job well suited to physically challenged people. For example,
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