Exploring Wellness and the Rural Mental Health Counselor

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Therapists in rural settings are faced with many professional challenges (Smith, 2003). Professionals tend to have little training in diagnosing, intervening and treating mental illness, even as the need for such skills grows (DeLeon, 2000). For example, "in the United States, at least 15 million rural residents struggle with significant substance dependence, mental illness, and medical-psychiatric co morbid conditions" (Roberts, Battaglia, and Epstein, 1999, p. 497). Compared to urban and suburban settings, rural settings consistently report ever increasing incidences of abusive drinking, suicides, mood and anxiety disorders, and chronic illness (Roberts et al., 1999).

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