How do psychologists deal with clients with severe mental health concerns?

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Mental health exists on a spectrum- from being in distress to flourishing. Different clients come to therapy for different reasons- clinical and non-clinical and benefit from it differently.
There is no one way of dealing with clients who may have similar mental health concerns as what each one needs is so unique.

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, a serious mental health concern is a “mental, behavioural, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities”.

To understand that a particular concern is severe and then to subsequently provide therapeutic support, there is an overarching process that most psychologists follow.

The first step is to assess the severity of the concern with a thorough assessment. There will be information from the client and/or whoever accompanies them that is relevant to their concern and important to know about. If deemed essential, a psychiatrist is looped into the process to medically evaluate the concern and provide a diagnosis if necessary.

The next step is to then view treatment options for the client and concern and differs with each client and what they are comfortable with as well.

Treatment broadly covers the various ways in which support is provided to help with the distress over time.

Here, it can consist of therapy, medication, a combination of both, group therapy, support groups, family therapy. This covers the various pillars of a person’s life and the important types of support that are available even in the community. Sometimes, in extreme situations, the professionals involved might also determine that hospitalisation might be helpful.

Helplines numbers and nearby emergency centres are also identified by the professionals to equip the client and their caregivers with. If necessary, a safety plan is discussed with them too - this involves harm reduction strategies as well as the above mentioned information.

The way forward and the type of therapy depends on the client’s concern, their personality and what fits them best. The therapeutic focus is collaboratively decided by the client and the therapist to ensure there is a clear understanding and the client is involved at every step.

Irrespective of the severity, every mental health concern is respected and valued by the professionals involved. This influences the prognosis of the concern to some extent as well as makes the client feel heard, understood and engage with the process.

If you think you are in need of a mental health therapist, please seek help from some of the best mental health professionals like therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. in Mumbai.

Not in Mumbai? Don’t worry, Mpower has mental health services in other locations as well. Please find your nearest location here- https://mpowerminds.com/contact

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Dishaa Desai
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