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18th September 2018 
Counselling & Psychotherapy #01

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling and psychotherapy are general terms describing a wide range of therapeutic approaches often called the ‘talking therapies’. Both words describe a collaborative process between client and practitioner that seeks to reduce the client’s distress.

There is much debate about how (or even whether) to differentiate between the two. Here are some observations:

Counselling, such as that provided by GP surgeries and employer funded Employee Assistance Programmes, is usually short-term (4-8 sessions). The aim is to alleviate mild to moderate distress and help people develop more effective coping strategies.

Psychotherapy gives the opportunity to examine underlying issues in greater depth and over a longer period (sometimes extending to a number of years).

On this website I will use the term ‘therapy’ to cover both counselling and psychotherapy interventions.

What is therapy?

The 'talking therapies', are professions that provide a confidential forum where people talk privately about the problems and difficulties they are facing to trained therapists. Such conversations can be difficult, inappropriate or even impossible to hold with friends, family or work colleagues.

Therapy is different from advice giving. It can best be described as a joint research project between client and therapist. The client brings his or her own experience of life, and the therapist his or her knowledge of the theory and practise of therapy. Both parties agree to meet and work together for the benefit of the client.
Therapy sessions are confidential and are run according to professional guidelines.

Why have therapy?

People often come to therapy to try to find a way of dealing with a specific problem, such as the death of someone close, relationships going wrong or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Sometimes, there isn't such an obvious reason why life seems difficult to manage, why we think we are constantly making wrong decisions or why we feel uncomfortable in our own skin.

Therapy can support you in taking the courageous step towards facing reality, learning about yourself and discovering the way to live your life differently.