Counselor Role in Identification and Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Brian C. Smith, LCPC
Idaho Counseling Association Bylaws Chair
Past President, Idaho Counseling Association (2019)
Shauna Smith, MS, CCC-SLP
Counselors will develop a greater understanding of mild TBI and learn how to treat this population with an interprofessional focus. Counselors will learn to identify clients who may otherwise not be screened for diagnosis, and learn tools that can be implemented immediately in your practice.
Mild traumatic brain injury and post concussion syndrome often go undiagnosed due to unsought medical care, inconclusive screening or scans, and poor societal education regarding causes and effects of mild TBI. It is likely that a counselor could be the first professional sought by a client suffering from the effects of mild TBI, making recognition and referral to other disciplines invaluable. It is imperative that mental health counselors work together with other related professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, in the treatment of individuals with TBI as the cognitive deficits associated can affect performance, communication, emotional regulation, relationships, and occupation. Approaching treatment of mild TBI as a team – addressing cognitive deficits and related psychosocial and emotional impact – will facilitate clients’ ability to achieve outcomes and mitigate barriers to treatment. Counselors and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) share common therapeutic territory when treating clients with mild TBI. SLPs are trained to assess and treat cognitive and communication deficits, including those which affect memory, attention, and executive functioning. SLPs directly address speech, language, and social communication and related skills in treatment, and help the client retrain and compensate for areas of deficit. In addition to this, SLPs also provide education and informational counseling to clients and family regarding diagnosis and areas of deficit, including motivational interviewing, identification of realistic functional goals, and communication partner training. Interprofessional collaboration between counselors and SLPs has the potential to address more areas of concern and reinforce treatment, resulting in a more complete and healthy recovery for clients with mild TBI. This presentation will cover identification of symptoms, the role of the SLP and counselor in the treatment of individuals with TBI, methods for effectively assessing and treating individuals with TBI within the counseling setting, training in specific communication and treatment strategies, and effective team collaboration.
Define mild TBI
Learn what SLP interventions are and scope of practice is
Learn referral process and tools to implement in counseling practice