Counselling and Psychotherapy – what are they and what is the difference?
Counselling and psychotherapy are both talking therapies and the terms are frequently used interchangeably. However, counselling is often seen as a short-term or time-limited therapy focusing on a specific, current problem or difficulty, whereas psychotherapy focuses on more deep-seated problems and therefore tends to be longer-term. On this website I use the term ‘therapy’ to encompass both counselling and psychotherapy.
Who can benefit from Counselling or Psychotherapy?
People seek help for a wide array of difficulties. These include (but are not limited to):
- depression or continual low mood
- lack of purpose / dissatisfaction with life
- confidence / self-esteem issues
- stress and anxiety
- big life changes
- relationship problems
- bereavement, grief and loss
- anger issues
- problems from the past, including childhood
- abuse (past / current)
Why not just talk to a friend or relative?
Often people don’t feel able to talk to friends or family members about their personal difficulties.
This could be for a number of reasons:
- Others may want to help but may be too emotionally involved to help you make your own decisions.
- You may be worried about burdening others with your problems, or may be afraid of being judged or misunderstood.
- Sometimes it is just too difficult to talk about a particular problem or issue with someone you know.
So many people turn to an impartial counsellor or psychotherapist for help and support.
How does it work?
Simply put, therapy is about helping you to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours at a pace that feels comfortable for you, helping you to gain a clearer perspective and develop a deeper level of self-awareness. Therapy can help you to realise your own unique potential and better manage all the difficulties life throws your way, and you may gain new insights and feel motivated to try out new things.
In some ways this all sounds very simple, but it is not always an easy task, hence many people seek professional help when this feels too difficult to do alone.
Is counselling / psychotherapy confidential?
Yes. As your therapist I do not discuss the content of any of our therapy sessions with others. There are a few exceptions where I may need to break confidentiality, for example, if I am requested to provide information to a court of law or as part of a police investigation, or if I am concerned that you or someone else is at risk of serious harm (if this happens I will always endeavour to discuss my concerns with you first).
What is required from me, as the client?
Counselling/psychotherapy works best when approached with total honesty. Naturally, it takes time to build a relationship with your therapist; to trust them and to feel safe. But it is important to be honest about your feelings, thoughts and behaviour so that your therapist can gain the best understanding possible of what is going on for you.
What can I expect from you, as my therapist?
I treat all my clients with the highest level of respect and offer an authentic, non-judgmental, supportive, therapeutic relationship. I have a genuine desire to help and, metaphorically speaking, I will walk alongside you on your therapeutic journey, showing you empathy and compassion along the way.
What happens if I decide I would like to get in touch with you?
From my own experience of being ‘the client’ I know that this first step can be very daunting and often takes a great deal of courage. If you decide that you would like to get in touch to make further enquiries or to make an appointment, you can do so either by calling me, emailing me or sending me a text message – whichever you feel most comfortable with. If I am unable to take your call, please leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I can. I always aim to respond to any enquiries within 24 hours.
I’ll ask you for a few basic details such as your name and the best way to contact you.
We can then arrange to meet for an initial face-to-face consultation, which usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.
What happens at the initial consultation?
The initial face-to-face consultation is an opportunity for me to explain a little bit more about the service I offer as well as to find out a little bit about what has brought you to therapy, what your expectations are, and what you hope to gain from the process. It is also an opportunity for you to ask me any questions you may have. At the end of this session we can both decide whether we feel we would work well together and we can arrange a follow up appointment if you wish to do so.
How will I feel?
Dealing with personal difficulties and discussing painful issues is hard work and can be both emotionally and physically draining. However, sharing you problems with another person, verbalising your inner thoughts, and getting in touch with your emotions can also feel very uplifting, and clients almost always report feeling better, or “lighter” after sharing their problems. How you feel after each session will vary from person to person, and session to session.
How many sessions will I need?
This varies greatly and is dependent on your individual goals and needs. What’s important to know is that it is up to you as the client to decide how long you would like us to work together, and you do not need to commit to a specific number of sessions. We can discuss this during the initial consultation, and while we are working together we will review your progress and goals at regular intervals.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.