Specialties within the helping professions, listed in alphabetical order
These descriptions explain the specialties within the helping professions. Specializations are listed in alphabetical order; scroll down to find the areas you're interested in learning about.
ADHD—Pros who offer this treatment address the neurobehavioral developmental disorder defined as a persistent pattern of hyperactivity and impulsivity more severe than typically observed in an average individual. This disorder affects children and adults. Treatment differs from client to client and may involve behavioral modification, medication and life planning to help identify areas that cause ADHD behaviors to intensify.
Addiction—Pros who offer this treatment address a disorder described as a state in which an individual depends on a substance for normal functioning. When the substance is removed, it causes withdrawal or a psychological dependence reaction. Areas of addiction include: alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, gambling, eating disorders, nicotine, gaming, internet, pornography and shopping.
Anxiety Issues—Pros who offer this treatment deal with anxiety, the generalized mood condition that occurs without an identifiable triggering stimulus. Anxiety is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
Anger Management—Pros who offer this treatment address out-of-control anger. The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. Although you can't avoid the things or the people that enrage you, you can learn to control your reactions.
Communication Problems—Pros who specialize in this area offer help with communication, the lack of which lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. By improving communication skills, an individual can more accurately and openly deal with many situations and lead a more fulfilling life.
Couples/Marital Issues—Pros with this specialty help couples—married or not—understand the root of conflicts and issues that are keeping them from being happy. Couples and marriage counseling gives those committed to union the tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve and argue (yes even argue) in a more productive way.
Chronic Pain/Disability or Illness—Pros who offer this treatment work with sufferers to reduce depression and anxiety, disability and in some cases actual pain. By using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or behavioral therapy (BT), the pro addresses psychological and practical processes. CBT involves avoiding negative thoughts; BT helps patients understand how they can change their behavior to gain comfort.
Dating/Support for Singles—Pros who offer this guidance will help individuals in their choice to either date or be single happily. To teach clients to date well, the pro will direct and train them to meet and attract long-term partners, as well as meet more compatible prospects. To teach a client to be single happily, this pro will offer tips on listening to his or her own instincts regarding choices and options in life, as opposed to following society's norms.
Depression—Pros with this specialization treat depression in all its forms. When depressed, people feel they have no energy, can't concentrate, and they are irritable and sad. Symptoms vary, but if you feel "down" for more than two weeks you may be clinically depressed. Through therapy, clients can learn to recognize early triggers and symptoms and therefore keep the depression from worsening.
Divorce/Divorce Prevention—Pros who work in this area give unhappy couples sound advice that can help reduce stress and rebuild their relationships. These Pros can also help couples or individuals who have decided to separate deal with the anger and fear that comes with the choice.
Drug & Alcohol—Pros who offer this treatment help clients achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol or drugs, stabilize acute psychiatric symptoms and improve physical, emotional, social and family functioning. They also provide early intervention if a relapse occurs.
Domestic Abuse—Pros who specialize in this area can help clients deal with the trauma of abuse, whether they have already removed themselves from the situation, or not. The pro can provide counseling, therapy and support groups for survivors to help them process what has happened and learn how to build new, healthy relationships.
Eating Disorders—Pros who offer this treatment will help a person with an eating disorder unlearn unhealthy behaviors through talk therapy. The therapy also helps a sufferer rediscover who they are, beyond the eating habits, weight and body image.
Elderly Care/Dementia—Pros with this specialty gear their services toward the families of those who are elderly and/or suffering from dementia. Anxiety, guilt and resentment are usually present in these situations, and seeing a pro helps deal with the complex emotions and issues.
Employment Stress/Growth—Pros who focus in this area will help clients who have left a job process the stressors that come with unemployment and fear of the unknown. They will also help job seekers take the next step in their professional careers, even of they are not sure what that next step might be.
Family Therapy—Pros who work with families help clients sustain healthy relationships and nurture change and development. This pro has a proven ability to influence communication in a way that catalyzes strengths, wisdom and support among family members.
Financial Stress—Pros who focus in this area can help those who have suddenly found a change in their financial standing through loss or another circumstance; they can also help those who are suffering financial hardship due to spending beyond their means.
Gambling—Pros who offer this treatment help clients with a gambling addiction get to the root of why they are exhibiting these behaviors, as well as deal with the sometimes catastrophic consequences of the addiction.
Gay/Lesbian/Sexual Identity—Pros with this specialty help with the unique elements that play a role within the gay and lesbian communities, including pressure or rejection by parents or other relatives, specific types of childhood trauma, cultural stereotyping, social disapproval, pressures to conceal sexual orientation and workplace harassment or discrimination.
Grief/Loss—Pros who include grief and loss counseling in their specializations help people who have lost a loved one process the grief that usually comes with the experience. Thoughts of guilt, anger and resentment are usually unwanted, yet normal responses. This pro help guide a person though the cycle of grief in a constructive manner.
HIV/AIDS—Pros with this specialization help those whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS through individual, couples/family and group counseling. The work can help alleviate the isolation, shame, fear and despair related to HIV/AIDS, and those in counseling often find comfort by sharing their experiences.
Infertility/Adoption—Women and couples who are infertile often need help from a pro to process the emotional, social and practical issues related to their problem, as well as the experiences of failed infertility treatment cycles and/or miscarriage. Adoption counseling helps clients explore adoption options and make timely decisions that are right for them. It also prepares them for the emotions associated with adopting a child.
Life Management—Pros who include life management in their specialties can be very helpful in times of transition or stress. They help determine and achieve personal goals that the client might not be able to achieve otherwise. This pro does not focus on examining or diagnosing the past, but instead focuses on effecting change in current and future behavior.
Learning Disorders—Pros that help with learning disabilities deal with a group of disorders that effect a broad range of academic and functional skills including the ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason, organize information and do math. The disorders are neurological in origin and reflect information processing problems in the brain.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)—These pros work with a model of interpersonal communication concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the experiences underlying them. They work with a system of alternative therapy, which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication to change patterns of mental and emotional behavior.
Occupational Therapy—These pros work with clients to develop, recover and maintain both living and work skills by improving basic motor functions and reasoning abilities. Usually this therapy is sought to compensate for permanent loss of function due to an accident or brain injury.
Parenting—Pros with this specialization help adults improve their skills as parents and to establish firm, fair and flexible boundaries so that the children can develop into well-adjusted adults.
Personality Disorders—Among other issues, these pros help clients suffering from the inability to have successful interpersonal relationships, problems with the appropriateness of range of emotion, negative self-image perception and difficulty possessing proper impulse control.
Phobias/OCD—These pros deal with clients who have anxiety issues that lead to unnecessary fear of objects or situations (phobias) as well as those that have compulsions (OCD) that effect daily life.
Postpartum Depression—Pros with this specialization—also called postnatal depression—deal with clients that have recently given birth and are now suffering from a form of clinical depression.
Sex Therapy—This pro can have a title of psychiatrist, marriage and family therapist, psychologist or clinical social worker. Generally, they work to resolve sexual issues by addressing them specifically, then working through them with talk therapy.
Spiritual/Religious—These pros offer relationship counseling from the perspective of their religious affiliation. Frequently they are ordained clergy (ministers, priests and rabbis) and promote emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing through a combination of traditional religion training and modern psychology.
Stress Management—The goal of these pros is to help clients reduce, cope and circumvent stress in their lives. They help the client find the real sources of stress—thoughts, feelings and behaviors—then work to defuse what is causing the pressure.
Trauma/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—Pros with this specialty deal with clients that have undergone a traumatic event, or series of events, which has left the individual with fears and reactions that continue to affect their daily life.