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Journal of Mental Health Counseling
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Volume 35, Number 3, July 2013

1. Contemporary Issues in  Private Practice: Spotlight on the Self-Employed Mental Health Counselor (Pages 189-197)

Judith A. Harrington

Mental health counselors (MHCs) are employed in a variety of professional settings, among them community agencies, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, clinics, treatment centers, government, military, employee assistance programs, insurance or managed care companies, and private practice. Arguably, private practice is the setting where the potential for career gratification and self-direction is most counterbalanced by vocational and financial vulnerability. This article introduces the Special Issue of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC), Contemporary Issues in Private Practice, and highlights the paucity of scholarly literature dealing with private practice; recalls the historic challenges between the research and clinical communities related to field-based research and collaboration and accurately quantifying the actual number of private practitioners; and reflects on the recent past and future of private practice counseling. Full article


2. Endless Possibilities: Diversifying Service Options in Private Practice (198-210)

Anita A. Neuer Colburn

Recent economic changes, extended areas of need, and personal preferences may inspire mental health counselors in private practice to diversify the service options they offer. This article outlines strategies for diversifying, including creatively marketing services already being provided; adding services that require little additional training or expertise; acquiring additional training in order to offer specialized services to meet market demand; providing services for or partnering with other practitioners; training future counselors; offering counseling or supervision at a distance; and consulting for businesses. Suggestions are provided for what counselors should consider before choosing a diversification strategy, along with ideas for implementing the strategy. The article concludes with suggestions for further research into diversification of services in private practice. Full article


3. Text Messaging and Private Practice: Ethical Challenges and Guidelines for Developing Personal Best Practices (Pages 211-227)

Michael E. Sude

The impact of technology on mental health practice is currently a concern in the counseling literature, and several articles have discussed using different types of technology in practice. In particular, many private practitioners use a cell phone for business. However, no article has discussed ethical concerns and best practices for the use of short message service (SMS), better known as text messaging (TM). Ethical issues that arise with TM relate to confidentiality, documentation, counselor competence, appropriateness of use, and misinterpretation. There are also such boundary issues to consider as multiple relationships, counselor availability, and billing. This article addresses ethical concerns for mental health counselors who use TM in private practice. It reviews the literature and discusses benefits, ethical concerns, and guidelines for office policies and personal best practices. Full article


4. Building a Practice in Rural Settings: Special Considerations (Pages 228-244)

Tracy J. Cohn and Sarah L. Hastings

Private practice in rural areas presents special challenges. Rural communities often hold more stigmatizing views about psychotherapy and have fewer economic resources, yet rates of mental health problems are comparable to those in metropolitan areas. Rural practice can be particularly rewarding for clinicians who can build collaborative networks, adjust to visibility, negotiate boundaries, and successfully integrate into the community. This article offers recommendations for mental health counselors on building a practice for branding, marketing, collaborating, and exercising self-care. It also discusses challenges associated with counseling in rural areas and gives suggestions for building a thriving practice. Full article


5. Ensuring Ethical Practice: Guidelines for Mental Health Counselors in Private Practice (Pages 245-261)

Cecile Brennan

Since mental health counselors in private practice often work in relative isolation, it is especially important that they attend to ethical issues. This article reviews four dimensions of ethical knowledge: the foundation of ethical actions, counselors as agents of ethical action, the need to establish a decision-making process, and the importance of sustaining ethical practice by keeping current with clinical developments and attending to their own well-being. Full article


6. The HIRE Model: A Tool for the Informal Assessment of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury (Pages 262-281)

Trevor J. Buser and Juleen K. Buser

In this article, we describe the HIRE model, a tool for facilitating informal assessment of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). This model contains a mnemonic device, with each letter of the acronym signaling attention to one domain of assessment: H = History; I = Interest in Change; R = Reasons behind Behavior; E = Exposure to Risk. The model was designed to help counselors gather information on diagnostic and safety issues related to NSSI. Clinical implications of the model are discussed. Full article

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