Counselling or Psychotherapy?

These two terms are often used interchangeably.

Put simply, counsellors work at a more immediate level generally focusing on a current issue that is affecting the client. Counselling tends to be a relatively short term process which is suitable when your main focus is the resolution of a particular difficulty or situation affecting you in the present, for example - bereavement, coping with a significant life change  e.g. redundancy or the end of a relationship, a bullying situation or work problem.

Psychotherapists both think and work at a deeper process level considering difficulties of longer duration and with less easily identified causes.  Psychotherapy is a longer process which aims to help you to understand the deeper roots of your difficulties and how this affects your experience of relationships and being in the world.

The process of working through your difficulties with an experienced counsellor/psychotherapist generates insight and understanding, enabling you to better understand the source of your distress. It is expected that you will bring your personal thoughts, experiences and history to the session. 

My role is to think and talk with you in a way that broadens and deepens your understanding of your experiences and feelings allowing you to think and talk in ways that might be more helpful for you. Given time, counselling/therapy will free the emotional pain/stuckness attached to these events leading to deep and long lasting change. My theoretical approach is informed by Integrative, Person-Centred  and Systemic-based theories.

When considering working with a counsellor or psychotherapist for the first time it may be useful to ask him or her how they view the matter. How do they approach thinking about and working with a new client? What’s their view on the difference between counselling and psychotherapy, if any? This should always be a welcome conversation. And even if there is no definitive answer it may serve to shed some light to help the person decide if this professional may be able to help them find the answers they seek.