Counselors help people with family, personal, and mental health problems. Their responsibilities are determined by the type of counseling they specialize in.

Educational, vocational, and school counselors specialize in educational and career counseling. School counselors work with elementary, middle, and high school students. They try to improve the safety and learning environment for all students. School counselors help students determine what courses they should take and possible career options they could pursue. Counselors conduct interviews and assessment tests in order to advise students. They may also coordinate career and education information seminars. Counselors also work with disabled students and students in special education programs.

Elementary school counselors supervise children during class and recess activities, as well as discuss with teachers the children's needs and strengths. Working with teachers and administrators, elementary school counselors assist in tailoring curriculum to meet a child's educational and developmental needs. High school counselors help students determine college majors, understand what requirements they must meet as well as entrance exams they must take, and advise students about financial aid options. They also help students with questions about resumes and job interviews. College career planning and placement counselors help students and alumni locate and secure employment.

All school counselors assist students dealing with personal, behavioral, and social problems. School counselors usually provide preventative problem counseling, so students can address major problems before worsening. Counselors supervise school social service programs such as drug and alcohol prevention programs and conflict resolution. Counselors also attempt to identify students who are victims of domestic abuse.

Counselors work with students one on one, in small groups, or collectively in classrooms. School counselors team up with psychologists, administrators, teachers, parents, and doctors to help students in need.

Vocational counselors, also known as employment or career counselors, provide career consulting services. They help people determine their career goals and develop a road map to attain these goals. Vocational counselors interview clients to discover their educational background, special skills, interests, employment history, and personality. They also administer aptitude tests to gage their clients abilities and help clients locate jobs, and if necessary, coach clients with interview strategies. Vocational counselors counsel people struggling after losing a job or experiencing excessive stress.

Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities. They meet with individuals struggling with disabilities resulting from birth defects, accidents, or serious illnesses. They determine an individual's abilities and place them in training programs and jobs matching their abilities, or arrange medical and mental health treatment. Rehabilitation counselors collaborate with clients' families and medical professionals to determine a client's abilities and limitations. Rehabilitation counselors also help clients live independently.

Mental health counselors meet with individuals, families, and groups to deal with mental health problems. They are trained to help other deal with depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. Mental health counselors also address less serious issues such as career problems, educational decisions, and family and relationship problems. Mental health counselors often collaborate with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and school counselors.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors assist people with drinking, drug, eating, and gambling problems. They meet with addicts and help identify behavior that triggers addiction. Counselors meet with clients individually but also conduct group therapy sessions. Counselors meet with addicts' families as well as coordinate abuse prevention programs.

Marriage and family therapists meet with families, individuals, and couples to resolve relationship problems. They use their knowledge and training to improve communication, alter perceptions and behaviors to prevent breakups. Marriage and family therapists use nonmedical psychotherapy to help many of their patients. Marriage and family therapists also refer their patients to other professionals while some teach courses and conduct research.

Some counselors specialize in multicultural, genetic, and gerontological counseling. A gerontological counselor advises the elderly and their families. Genetic counselors advise people with predisposition to inherited diseases as well as help parents with children with birth defects. Genetic counselors also suggest possible courses of actions to deal with potential problems.

Work environment. Schools counselors usually have their own offices but sometimes work in classrooms. Other counselors have their own practice, work in hospitals, or a community health clinic. Counselors usually have their own offices since they must keep information about clients private.

Usually school counselors work 9 months and have 3 months off during the summer. However, many now work 11 months or all year round. They usually work the same hours as teachers but often travel to conferences. College career planning and placement counselors work long hours during recruiting phases.

Rehabilitation counselors work 40 hour weeks. Mental health counselors, such as substance abuse counselors or marriage and family therapists, usually work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients' schedule.
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