What Career in Behavioral Healthcare is Right for Me?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Education Center  
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Exploring careers in behavioral healthcare

Today, there’s a major upward trend in people seeking out mental health services. The pandemic, as well as increasing social acceptance around mental illness, has made therapy and other behavioral health services more appealing. With this increase in individuals pursuing mental health treatment, it may have crossed your mind that being a mental health professional is a truly fulfilling and meaningful career.

What is behavioral healthcare?

Behavioral healthcare is a branch of healthcare specifically focused on social, emotional and behavioral well-being. Often, this field includes working with individuals who struggle with mental illness, behavioral problems or unhealthy lifestyle habits. Behavioral healthcare includes mental health and encompasses many areas of need. Here are some areas that are included under the umbrella of behavioral healthcare:

  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Family counseling
  • Couples counseling

There are so many reasons to look into a career in the mental health field. It’s a stable career option that is growing as awareness and demand for mental health services increases. Many careers in behavioral health offer more flexibility than other fields and the rewards of helping people achieve fulfilling lives is a major draw. There are countless specialties and ways to serve in clinical settings. If you’re considering a career in behavioral health, here are the most common avenues to specific occupations. Keep in mind that for most careers in behavioral healthcare, the requirements differ by state and by employer.

Social work

Social workers tend to focus on resources and support rather than diagnosing mental health disorders. Although some social workers include treatment of mental illness in the scope of their practice, social work typically maintains an emphasis on mitigating environmental factors and adapting behavioral manifestations so individuals can live a more functional lifestyle. 

Perhaps the broadest range of career options within behavioral healthcare belongs to social workers. Social work is divided into micro-social work and macro-social work. Micro focuses on working with individuals (working in schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, child protective services, hospice, etc.) and macro focuses on changing systems (work in advocacy, policy analysis, community organizing, research and the like).

In order to be considered a clinical social worker, a Master’s Degree in Social Work is required. Additionally, social workers are licensed professionals, receiving full licensure after an exam, a period of supervised work and application to the Association of Social Work Boards.

Time in school: 5 to 6 years. Many schools offer an accelerated Master’s program if you obtain an undergraduate degree in social work, hence the 5-year path. It will take 6 years to obtain a Master’s degree if you currently hold an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field.

Counseling

Counseling is a branch of behavioral healthcare that focuses primarily on psychological health, rather than physical health. Counselors often work with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, grief, self-esteem, substance abuse, anger management, stress, relationship issues and so on. Like social workers, counselors work in a variety of fields, such as inpatient and outpatient therapy, substance abuse recovery, in government or in private practice. Most counseling positions require a Master’s Degree to practice. The National Board for Certified Counselors is where you’d look to get certified in counseling and a license can be obtained after taking one or both of two national exams.

Many people automatically think of school counselors when they think of the profession of counseling. School counseling is a distinct branch of counseling that differs from the rest of counseling in many ways. School counselors, though they often help with emotional and social issues, typically are employed by the school to encourage and assist with college attendance and applications, career readiness and scheduling classes. This requires a specialized Master’s Degree in School Counseling.

Time in school: 5 to 6 years. Like social work, accelerated programs exist for those who have received an undergraduate degree in the same field. Like most other clinical professions, counseling requires some field experience before graduating.

Psychology

Most often, the term “therapist” refers to a psychologist, or someone who has a degree in psychology. Psychologists typically use talk therapy to provide treatment to their clients. Often, a therapist will have a specialty area of practice, such as working with children or working with victims of trauma. Moreover, many therapists will have several areas of expertise and acquire more endorsements over time. Psychologists focus primarily on treatment rather than environmental factors. Psychologists typically work in private practice, hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, university medical centers and rehab programs. 

In order to practice, a person will have to complete an advanced degree and obtain licensure after a certain number of clinical hours in the field. Most psychologists have PhDs. Before licensure, applicants take an exam called the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

Time in school: Roughly 8 to 10 years. First a bachelor’s Degree, then a doctoral Degree, then some time in supervised training and practice makes for about a decade of study and preparation to practice psychology.

Psychiatry

Psychiatrists lean towards the medical side of the spectrum of mental health workers, as they can prescribe drugs for treatment whereas social workers, counselors and psychologists cannot. Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating psychiatric disorders by combining therapeutic techniques and medication. In order to be licensed and certified, a person must first complete four years of medical school and a four year residency before he or she can officially be called a psychiatrist. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and The American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry are the two recognized boards that offer certification. Psychiatrists typically work in hospitals and private practices.

Time in school: 8 years, plus 4 years in residency. Factor in a bachelor’s degree, a doctorate degree (either a doctor of medicine, MD, or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, OD), and a residency program and you’re looking at about 12 years before being able to practice independently. However, after 8 years of school a psychiatrist can obtain a license and is working in the field during the residency.

Pyramid Online Counseling employs licensed and certified clinicians in several capacities. We are always looking to hire competent and compassionate team members who want to help individuals master mental health struggles and live a life they can be proud of. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our careers page and apply online.

The 4 Things You Need to Do Today to Manage Your Quarantine Depression

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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The 4 Things You Need to Do Today to Manage Your Quarantine Depression

Have you been feeling more depressed during quarantine? With all the uncertainty, social isolation and drastic changes to normal living, it’s no wonder floods of people are starting to seek out therapy to address an increase in depression. If you’re considering online counseling to help you get through this tough period, you’re certainly not alone.

Feelings of loneliness and depression are valid feelings during this intensely stressful time. Depression has several forms – or subtypes – of the disorder. If you have not experienced depression before, you’ve likely been impacted by what is called a “depressive reaction.” This type of depression occurs in response to a stressful life event. Loss of employment, financial insecurity, social separation, loss of a loved one and/or a pandemic could all qualify as that stressful trigger. A depressive reaction can be treated by counseling, either in person or online.

If you experienced depression before the pandemic, now is an excellent time to get started with online counseling, if you haven’t already. Let your provider know about your symptoms before the onset of COVID-19, and how they’ve been exacerbated since.

Regardless of the type of depression you are experiencing, here are four proven tips to help you manage any potential quarantine depression and loneliness.

1. Get moving

Staying physically active (even in a small space) should be a priority. The act of exercise boosts endorphins, and releases oxytocin in your brain which are two of the “happiness” chemicals in your body. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.

Despite the limitation of closed gyms and cancelled workout classes, we can still find ways to be active. Consider trying out some new at-home workouts, or driving to a less crowded part of town to maintain social distancing on your stroll. Many gyms offer virtual classes, and it’s easy to find apartment-friendly workout videos online. 

2. Stay connected

Make an extra effort to keep up with the people in your life. Tackle that phone anxiety once a week and call a friend or family member. Schedule a video call night with your book club or take up writing letters. Maintaining strong relationships not only feels satisfying, but is important overall to mental health. 

Quarantine loneliness may get the best of us at times as we self-isolate, but staying in regular contact with loved ones can help us to feel connected and valued. However, there is one caveat: social media usage does not count as staying in touch. Make sure your communications are personal conversations, rather than likes and comments on someone’s profile. You’re sure to find these conversations more meaningful than mindless scrolling, anyway.

3. Use this extra time to do something for you

With quarantine likely comes some extra free time. Whether you’ve cut out the commute to work or had all of your social events cancelled, your calendar probably looks a little more wide open than it was previously. Use this time to really indulge one of your passions or take up a new one. Always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Have a stack of books you’ve been meaning to read through? Wanting to binge every Oscar-nominated movie? If you’ve heard the buzzword “self-care” recently, this is what the buzz is about.

We used to all wish for more hours in the day; now, we have them. How can you combat quarantine depression by growing in an area of enjoyment? Finding satisfaction in activities is a sign that depression symptoms are decreasing. Sometimes we have to do it before we feel it.

Stick to a routine

This is a hard task, especially if you’re working from home and no one will know if you’re wearing pajamas all day. Develop and adhere to a routine that balances your day. Include getting ready in the morning, eating healthy and integrating some structured rest time (like meditating or journaling). Daily structure is one of the best ways to fortify your mental health, and it also makes everyday tasks easier when they become habits.

Make a schedule for yourself and keep it somewhere easily visible. The first few days you might need reminders in your phone or sticky notes around the house, but after a little while your new routine will feel natural. Take this opportunity to incorporate the above suggestions, like a workout every day at 5pm or a phone call to family after dinner.

Although exercise, connectedness, self-care and routine are crucial to managing depression and loneliness in these times, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek counseling. With the accessibility and ease of online counseling, it’s easier than ever to find the help you need. Take care of yourself, and let your therapist help you along the way.

If you’re serious about getting help for your quarantine depression and loneliness, reach out to a mental health professional today. At Pyramid Online Counseling, our licensed psychiatrists are forever dedicated to your health and well-being. Schedule your first virtual session today, by visiting us online or calling (833) 525-3077 to get started.

7 Practical Tips for Balancing Work & Life

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
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7 Practical Tips for Balancing Work & Life

Are you struggling to separate work from home, now that the both happen in a 10-foot vicinity? You’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of Americans are currently working from home. Given the increase in home office spaces, experiencing difficulty in separating work life from home life is natural, if not expected. While this transition may be temporary for some and more permanent for others, we must all learn to continually find balance. Even for those still commuting to in-person jobs, the pandemic has likely introduced other lifestyle changes that require us to take a step back and focus on a healthy well-being.

As we make adjustments to both work life and home life, keep the following 7 tips in mind.

1. Establish a designated work space

Setting aside a space in your home is a practical way to separate work time from home time. Set up a desk or a section of a room, only to be used during work hours. Make sure your space is equipped with everything you need for effective work, perhaps including noise-canceling headphones, device chargers, a notepad, water and snacks to keep the energy flowing. A comfy chair also helps, but don’t sit somewhere you’re tempted to doze off. After clocking out, don’t use this work space for anything else. The physical separation will help you to psychologically detach from work once you’re off-duty.

2. Clarify your schedule

Maintaining an office area at your house can feel like a luxury. However, having all of the technology and supplies a few steps away from your family space can also have some major downsides. Your employer, coworkers and consumers may be making calls and sending emails to you after-hours knowing you’re near your workspace. With no social outings or weeknight events, you might find yourself voluntarily occupying your free time with work tasks. 

Creating clear boundaries is essential to working from home. Turning your work notifications off or setting an automated email reply for after-hours can help you focus on down time and de-stress from the work day. Clarify your work hours with your employer as a reminder to both yourself and your boss that expectations should be appropriately managed.

3. Decide on your priorities

Take some time to reflect on your priorities, factoring in career aspirations, family life and safety. In our current circumstances, a perfect balance may not be feasible. However, knowing where we rank our priorities can help us to see the light at the end of the COVID-tunnel and plan accordingly. 

If you’re at a juncture in your life where you’re hoping to move up the ladder, maybe hunkering down during quarantine is a great opportunity to prove your dedication. Now might also be a perfect time to refocus on family and bring back family dinners. If you feel like your job conflicts with the things you hold most important, or it jeopardizes your safety, embrace the tricky decision of a potential job change (or take some time off).

4. Use your weekends and vacation days to your advantage

Planning an elaborate vacation during a pandemic might be off the table, but make sure to make your time off more special. Spend some time outside, or plan a movie marathon on your day off. Look up stay-cation ideas to focus on time with family and distance yourself from the duties of your job. Although it may feel like there’s no reason to take vacation days, find an excuse to treat yourself and take a long weekend to take care of your mental health. 

5. Keep your bodily health in mind

Like many of us working from home, you may find that the bulk of your job involves sitting in front of a computer. Strolls through the office, lunch runs and commuting are no longer integral parts of our daily routine. Our step counts have likely fallen by the thousands. Remembering to stay active – not just while working out, but throughout the day – is essential to holistic health. 

It is recommended that adults should not be sedentary for more than 30 minutes at a time. Set timers or make a commitment to getting some movement in every half hour, even if it’s just walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water.

6. Balance screen time

Spending all day staring at a computer for work can take a physical toll. Watery or weary eyes, sore back muscles, cramped necks and headaches are all symptoms of remote work. Balancing screen time may be one of the hardest things we have to do after work, especially because television streaming services provide such an easy outlet for unwinding.

Designate an appropriate amount of time each evening for screen time. In addition, look to exercise, cook, play board games, take a walk or call family members to give your eyes and body a break. And if your job requires you to be on your feet all day, find some activities to balance the strain by doing seated activities when you get home.

7. Find some joy in your work

Working from home or adjustments made to in-person work during the pandemic have likely taken away some of the fun aspects of having a job. Conversations with coworkers in passing, recognition for in-office achievements, even surprise donuts in the office are sadly absent from our work-from-home lives.

If you want to bring this joy back to your work life, try to reincorporate small joys into the daily grind. Host virtual lunches with staff or drop off coffee to nearby coworkers. Continue the relationships you had in the workplace and go out of your way to welcome any new hires over the past year. Celebrate little victories and relish any of your business’s successes.

Balancing work life and home life is a challenge present in the forefront of most people’s minds. Our struggles to manage the two are exacerbated by the pandemic and ever-changing work arrangements. Designating a workspace, making a clear schedule, deciding on your priority, using vacation days, keeping your body healthy, balancing screen time and finding joy in work are practical ways to promote a healthy work-life balance.

If you’re worried about the emotional toll which the pandemic can impose, know that Pyramid Online Counseling is always here to help. Teletherapy can connect you with licensed healthcare professionals, ready to help you effectively manage thoughts and feelings as they arise. Call (833) 525-3077 today – or reach out online – for professional help in maintaining a professional work-life balance despite any of the challenges that come your way.

How Online Counseling Can Help You Battle Depression & Anxiety

Pyramid Online Counseling      Treatment & Therapy  
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How Online Counseling Can Help You Battle Depression & Anxiety

The most common cause of disability in the United States for adults up to age 44 is depression, and the most common mental illness for adults is anxiety, impacting around 40 million people. Moreover, the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) points out that about half of those struggling with depression also experience anxiety. The sheer number of individuals affected by these mental illnesses should indicate the necessity of intervention.

Faced with not only the numbers, but the gravity of the impact of mental illness on each individual, it is no surprise that increased treatment options are becoming available. Online counseling may be a new concept to you, but it’s definitely one worth taking a look into. If you’re interested in trying out online counseling to help combat feelings of depression and/or anxiety, here are a few things to consider.

Growing an understanding of yourself

Therapy in any form can help you to understand and manage your mental health, and teletherapy can offer you this support from the convenience of your own home. Simply, therapy is the process of meeting with a mental health professional to externally process your thoughts, feelings and behaviors with the aim of resolving or lessening the problematic effects these have on your life. Attending therapy with the particular aim of confronting anxiety or depression can only provide a clearer defined starting point.

As you explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, you’re likely to discover some key components of mental illness: the root of your anxiety or depression, triggers to distress, symptoms of mental illness, coping mechanisms, self-talk, the impact of anxiety and depression on your daily life, mental health goals, how to tell when you’re making progress and more. This is not a comprehensive list of how therapy can help you to understand anxiety and depression, but a little overview of what you can expect if you stick with online counseling as a verified treatment option.

Learning to manage events in your life

As you work to battle mental illness, there will be events that come into your life which are too hard to process on your own. Therapy isn’t simply talking about the mental illness itself, but the concrete and palpable ways it affects your day-to-day life. Interacting with a mental health professional who understands your anxiety and depression will make it easier to share about your experiences and how mental health influences them.

Finding medication that works for you

Depression and anxiety are real medical conditions that have physical roots and symptoms. Addressing their psychological impact through counseling can have a major impact on learning to cope and live with mental illness. In addition, addressing the physical side of depression and anxiety can help you in ways that counseling cannot. Trying out medications for depression and anxiety is never an experience that you should go through alone. Enlist the help of your online counselor for a better, professional-level understanding of the medications you need. Talk about how your emotional state changes as you change medications, whether the side effects are manageable and if you feel the medication lessens your depression and anxiety.

Getting the answers you’re looking for

Our brains are busy with questions all day long. Consider yourself lucky if you have a mental health professional on your side who can offer educated and evidence-based answers to life’s toughest questions. Capitalizing on your therapist’s wealth of knowledge that is ever-accessible to you in your sessions is one of the best benefits of online counseling. Make a list of questions throughout the week to ask during your online counseling session. Your therapist will be happy to share information and resources with you, and you’re likely to be impressed by the treasury of information they can offer.

Restoring meaning and purpose to your life

Your therapist is not just working to bandage the symptoms of your mental illness. Rather, they will help you to work at the root of your illness and not only survive with your anxiety and depression, but learn to prosper despite it. Teletherapy for anxiety and depression will help you to minimize symptoms and cope with mental health, to the point that you are not only doing better, but doing your best.

If you’re ready to put online counseling to work for improved management of depression and anxiety, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to help. Call us at (833) 525-3077 today, or pursue the first steps toward improved mental health online, to start actively pursuing the life you know you deserve.

Counseling for anxiety and depression may look different now than it did in the past, but it’s no less effective. Millions of individuals are getting the mental health help they need and are flocking to online counseling in droves. Online counseling can help you to understand your anxiety and depression, provide a safe space to process the crazy world around you, help you to manage life events and medication and open the doors to a full and happy life.