Psychopharmacology and the Mental Health Counselor


Mental health is a subject that does not only focus on the psychological counseling, but also on the use of medication to ensure effective treatment. However, not all counselors can be able to manage both psychological and pharmacological treatment of an individual with mental problems. Therefore, there is a developing challenge among counselor regarding the great need for them to have pharmaceuticals knowledge, to be allowed to deal with their clients fully (Kaut, 2007). This paper focuses on analyzing the required the mental treatment condition in the counseling field.

Legal and Ethical Limitation of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practice

It is essential for counselors in mental health field to understand that medical treatment in their field require them to have particular medical qualifications which are only attained at an advanced stage of learning. In this regard, they should consider working as per their limitation which is set, based on individual qualification. This will highly protect patients from the risks associated with wrong medical prescription. Therefore, counselors should only give medical prescription or recommendation when they are sure of their ability to do so.

Legal Limitation

Medical treatment is a sensitive subject that requires enough knowledge and ability to identify the best treatment and to prescribe it correctly as required. Based on the risks factors associated with wrong medication, counselors are legally required to have attained master’s education level in counseling to be able to offer medical prescription or advice. They are also required to have enough knowledge and training to be able to propose or recommend any medical treatment to a client. Thus, it is legally required that any counselor offering such services to be licensed. This is basically meant to ensure that only those counselors that are qualified to offer medical guidance in mental counseling are allowed to operated (Kaut, 2007).

Ethical Limitation

Counselor’s ethical guidance demands that a counselor must apply their knowledge and professionalism for the best interest of the client. Therefore, a counselor may require consulting various medical personnel with intention of benefiting the client. A trained counselor will ethically be expected to acknowledge the need for medical attention for a client, but also be limited to employ knowledge he or she is not conversant with. Therefore, a counselor is ethically limited to assist up to the level he or she can manage, and give a referral or a recommendation to the client for what she or he cannot handle. The referral in this case should consider the best physician identified after extensive consultation, so as to give the client a surety (King & Anderson, 2004).

Counselor’s Role of Educating Clients about Medications

There is a need for counselor to integrate the counseling practices with medical knowledge of the possible medical prescription. Therefore, a counselor may require to keep up both psychological counseling ability and the ability to manage the medical requirement of a client. Counselors have a role of informing the clients about the drugs they need, how the drugs will help them, how they should take the drugs, and the possible side effects of these drugs to the client.  However, for them to be able to do all this, counselors have a responsibility of ensuring that that they have enough and accurate information about these drugs. This way, they will be able to give accurate and well sieved information to the clients. A counselor needs to have an extensive knowledge on the medical therapy since not all clients need similar therapy. Different clients may require different medical information based on their particular condition. In this regard, to be able to educate clients on medication, Foxhall (2008) advocate that client may also be given materials to read about their condition. A counselor may also be required to have a specialized training on the same.

Appropriate Referral Source

A counselor can refer a client to any authorized or licensed medical professional with rights to prescribe. Normally a primary care physician will permit a patient to come for his or her services and with counselor’s advice, the physician can write a prescription. When a client requires special treatment or medical attention, that client can only be referred to a specialist. For instance, if a client requires anti-seizing medication, this client may need to consult neurologist to be able to acquire the best treatment. Basically, the referral should be established by the client’s condition. While advising physician on the client prescription, a counselor may be required to give a brief history of the client condition to the physician. The referral main goal is to ensure that the physician has addressed the client’s interest to the highest level possible.


Medical treatment in counseling is a sensitive subject which requires advance training and extensive level of consultation from other professions in the health industry. This is because medical treatment is not part of psychological basic treatment. However, since medical treatment goes hand in hand with counseling therapy, a counselor need to have a comprehensive knowledge in medical field to be able to enhance effective treatment of a client with mental condition.

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