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Psychopharmacology and the Mental Health Counselor

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According to Foxhall (2008) "many children and adolescents are taking psychopharmaceuticals" (p1). With such a high number of psychopharmaceuticals being used in conjunction with counseling, it is imperative that counselors are educated about these medications. Counselors need to understand the medications their clients are taking in order to better serve the client. Counselor's who are educated on phsychopharmaceuticals can assist clients with important information related to the medications they are taking such as possible side effects, interactions with other medications, and general information pertaining to the medication.

Counselors may be faced with many dilemma's when it comes to psychopharmeceuticals and their clients. Counselor's do not and cannot prescribe psychopharmeceuticals for their client's thus necessitating the need for the client to see a psychiatrist or other doctor when there is an indication that psychopharmeceuticals would be beneficial in the treatment of the client. Foxhall (2008) points out that most patients spend considerably more time with their counselor than with the prescribing physician (p.1). One ethical delimma a counselor might face would be dealing with a client who is on a medication that the counselor feels is not working or is not the right medication for the client. Due to the nature of psychpharmeceuticals, there are a number of medications that treat a variety of different illnesses. Since the counselor spends considerably more time with the client than the prescribing physician, the counselor is in a better position to see, and discuss the medication with the client as well as side effects and possible issues the client may have with the medication. However, the counselor who lacks proper training in the area of psychopharmeceuticals would not ethically be able to assist the client. Foxhill (2008) suggests that "counselor's need to know more about the topic that the general public" (p.2). Counselor's should not ethically comment on topics they are not well trained in. Despite to the fact that many of a counselor's clients will be taking psychopharmeceuticals, and the counselor would be ideally placed in a position to offer much needed information and guidance on this topic, according to Foxhill (2008) many counselors are not required to take classes pertaining to psychopharmocology (p.1).

Another dilemma that a counselor could face when working with clients who are on psychopharmeceuticals would be the legal implications of making recommendations or comments regarding the clients medications without the prescribing physicians involvement. Even counselor's who have been trained in psychopharmacology do not have the credentials to change, or adjust a clients medication. This is why counselor's should work in collaboration with the prescribing physician. Foxhall (2008) points out that "what counselors should or are even allowed to say about medication is not laid out well in legal and ethical guidance" (p.3). This creates a gray area that could cause a counselor to overstep their boundaries. Counselors should keep the information they share with



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