Insight for the Journey: Pros and Cons of Working as a Co-Occurring Disorders Counselor

Insight for the Journey: Pros and Cons of Working as a Co-Occurring Disorders Counselor

5 Advantages of Working in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Field 

Every day I interact with drug and alcohol counselors and mental health therapists. I’d like to discuss the positives and negatives of working in this field. There are certain traits that are necessary to be a good mental health or addictions counselor. These include knowledge of human behavior and individual differences, personality, learning, motivation, and the knowledge of assessment and treatment of behavioral and emotional disorders. Helpful skills include active listening, oral expression, deductive reasoning, sense of humor, social skills, and sensitivity. The positives of working in this field include: 

1. Have available work in the field 

It is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the fields of mental health and substance abuse will experience very rapid growth over the next few years. In fact, the BLS predicts a 31 percent increase in jobs in substance abuse counseling, so there will be ample opportunities for employment throughout the country in this field of work. Currently the profession is made up of 68% women and 32% men. Most people in the field rate job satisfaction as: Extremely Satisfied. 

2. Make a positive impact on individuals and their families 

We help people learn to cope with their disorders and disabilities and overcome mental and emotional challenges. We teach skills to reduce symptoms and prevent relapse. It is very rewarding to bring hope and healing to families, see a marriage restored, or witness a life saved. People get better. They stay out of jail, get off drugs, and contribute to friends and families. Although there may not be regular acknowledgement of your service, working in this field is very fulfilling. 

3. Make a positive impact on the community 

Working with those who have mental health and substance use disorders helps people be more productive, work more consistently, raise their own children, pay their bills, and pay taxes. We are making the world a better place. When we help someone get back on their feet and become productive again, his or her family, friends, community and our society all benefit. 

4. Develop your own character 

You have an almost constant opportunity to work on yourself. Every day I teach positive attributes and personal qualities that make long term lifestyle changes possible. As I teach, I rehearse these characteristics, examine my own conduct, and make adjustments. I have learned what works and apply it and I have learned what doesn’t and avoid it. In so many ways, it’s wise to do the things we teach. 

5. Work with a team 

Being in the mental health and substance abuse field has afforded me an opportunity to work with psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, probation officers, case managers, business and marketing people, lawyers, school counselors, parents, families, and city officials. I have come away with a deep appreciation for the care and concern of a community. It’s teamwork that makes the dream work. 

Psychology is a science but the application of it is more like artwork. Working with a team will help you hone your craft. This field can then give you almost endless opportunities to help others escape the trap of addiction and heal from the ravages of mental health disorders. 

Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!

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