The Mental Health Team

Professional clinical counselors are part of an interdisciplinary mental health team which also includes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists. These mental health professionals typically share theories and techniques and provide similar assessment, counseling (individual, group, marital and family) and other psychotherapeutic services to treat individuals with mental disorders and related problems within both public and private practice settings. Although each professional mental health discipline provides a similar core of mental health services, each mental health discipline has some areas of practice where they have special expertise.

What are the special expertise areas of Professional Clinical Counselors (PCCs)? PCCs provide mental health assessment, counseling (individual, group, marriage, and family) and other psychotherapeutic services to treat individuals with mental disorders and related mental health concerns much like the other mental health professionals. However, PCCs have special expertise in at least three areas. The first area of expertise is the level of clinical counseling and psychotherapy skills developed through university-based curriculum as well as supervised field-based counseling and related mental health practices in accredited counselor education programs. Secondly, PCCs are prepared to operate from a broad-based personal growth and developmental model (as well as the medical disease model) which prepares counselors to help individuals and their families with the common problems and stresses of living, as well as the more severe mental disorders. Finally, PCCs have numerous counselor specialty areas, each with its own established standards, examination, and certification within the counseling profession.

Although all the mental health care professionals provide clinical assessment, counseling (individual, group, marriage and family) and other psychotherapeutic services, each professional discipline has its unique areas of expertise.

Scope of Professional Clinical Counseling Practice

The scope of practice for qualified Professional Clinical Counselors includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Assessment and diagnosis of an individual's mental health and personal characteristics, assets, and limitations through clinical interviews and/or the administration and interpretation of tests.
  • Clinical individual, group, marital and family counseling and psychotherapy services.
  • Treatment of mental disorders and related personal, family, interpersonal, and vocational concerns.
  • Development of counseling approaches and treatment goals and plans.
  • Case management and coordination of related heath, mental health, and rehabilitation services.
  • Career assessment and counseling services.
  • Counselor supervision, training, and education.
  • Administration of counseling and related mental health and rehabilitation programs.
  • Research in counseling, psychotherapy, mental health, and related health care areas.
  • Consultations on mental health and counseling related issues to other health care providers, human service providers, school personnel, and community organizations.

Many PCCs receive specialty training and certification and may limit their scope of counseling and psychotherapy practices to specialty areas of practice. The PCC code of ethics requires that professional services be limited to those activities for which they are trained to perform. In some states, regulatory laws may prevent professional counselors from providing some of the professional services listed above.