An Investigation of Healthcare Professionals’ Perspectives on the Tasks of Mental Health Counselors in Hospital Settings
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Counseling & Human Services
With the global mental health implications reported by the spread of COVID 19 (Javed et al., 2020) and the amplified mental health illnesses reported by the State of Mental Health in America (Reinert et al., 2021), there is an increased need to address psychological and emotional health along with physical health. Mental Health Counselors (MHCs) can be the next professional body to support the multidisciplinary teams within hospital settings to complement holistic care focusing on physical and emotional well-being. Researchers have demonstrated addressing the psychological needs of patients from their first admissions to the hospital has significant positive implications on their recovery outcomes as well as psychological, social, and relational well-being post-discharge (Zhang et al., 2016; Ng et al., 2007; Schoultz et al., 2015; McCombie et al., 2016; Hatch et al., 2011). Research on the effects of therapeutic intervention has effectively prevented PTSD in the general population when provided in the first month after trauma exposure (Bryant et al., 2008). Therefore, early therapeutic interventions in hospital settings to identify emotional and psychological reactions (Weinert & Meller, 2007) before discharging patients can significantly impact patients’ post-discharge mental health. However, since counseling is a new profession entering the medical field, role confusion within multidisciplinary teams appears to impact counselors’ effective integration into healthcare as they provide counseling services to hospitalized patients. Therefore, in this study, I address the gap in the literature by exploring the perspectives and expectations of healthcare professionals on what MHCs do in hospital settings. This study was guided by a social constructivist paradigm utilizing an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design, concept mapping (Kane & Trochim, 2007). Healthcare professionals conceptualized MHCs’ tasks in hospital settings to facilitate medical and mental health services and enhance patients’ well-being in 104 statements grouped in 11 clusters forming three central regions. The three main regions include: “Overarching Roles and Responsibilities of MHCs in the Hospital Setting” (Region I) contained two clusters (i.e., ‘Fundamental Roles and Responsibilities in the Hospital Setting,’ & ‘Specific Roles and Responsibilities in Different Hospital Units’) of MHCs’ tasks, while “MHCs’ Specific Roles in the Hospital Setting” (Region II) entailed four clusters (i.e., ‘Building Relationship with Patients,’ ‘Assessing/Evaluating Patients’ Mental Health Status,’ ‘Assisting and Supporting patients with Physical, Psychological, and Social Challenges in Relations to their Medical Condition’ & ‘Educating Patients’) and “MHC’s Roles and Responsibilities as a Multidisciplinary Team Member” (Region III) hosted five clusters(i.e., ‘Advocating for Patients in the Multidisciplinary Team,’ ‘Mediating Communication Between Healthcare Professionals, Patients, and Families,’ ‘Collaborating with Other Multidisciplinary Team Members on Patients’ Care,’ ‘Training Other Multidisciplinary Members on General Wellness and Mental Health’ & ‘Offering Trainings and Emotional Support to Other Multidisciplinary Team Members’). The top three higher-rated clusters as being most important for participants were cluster 7 ‘advocating for patients in the multidisciplinary team,’ cluster 5 ‘assisting and supporting patients with physical, psychological, and social challenges in relation to their medical condition,’ and cluster 11 ‘offering training and emotional support to other multidisciplinary team members.’
Micallef Marmara, Suelle.
"An Investigation of Healthcare Professionals’ Perspectives on the Tasks of Mental Health Counselors in Hospital Settings"
(2022). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Dissertation, Counseling & Human Services, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/1rhn-fp47
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