What's the difference?
Counselling involves a trained professional listening and helping you to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviour; Clients tend to get the best results from therapy if they are open and honest with their therapist and say how they are really feeling.
Counselling works well when it is offered weekly for a fixed number of therapy sessions. Typically six sessions are offered at the beginning of treatment to the client and on some occasions, the sessions can go on for more than six months.
Counselling often involves something the client wishes to change in their life but feels unable or uncertain of how to go about changing it; one of the roles of the professional is to provide a therapeutic framework for addressing the client's issues, with the goal of improving the client's life.
Another aim of the counsellor is to equip the client with practical short-term tools that can help them break out of unhelpful thoughts and behaviour patterns. Some of the areas it can be effectively used are with individuals who are feeling stressed, managing a relationship breakdown, bereavement or anger management.
The goals of Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Both explore feelings, thoughts and behaviours
- Both focus on creating a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment
- Both help you to gain a better understanding of yourself
- Both help you to gain a better understanding of others
- Both help you make better choices in life when moving forward.
- Counselling is more likely to be focused on present problems and circumstances
- Counselling is more likely to be short-term in the duration of therapy
- Counselling is more likely to focus on your current issues over past issues
- Counselling helps people to identify and find solutions to their current problems.
- Psychotherapy tends to be a longer-term process of treatment than counselling
- Psychotherapy can deal with mental health problems and disorders that have developed over a long period of time
- Psychotherapy is more likely to explore past childhood issues instead of behavioural patterns which can lead to personal growth
- Psychotherapy aims to find the very roots and beginnings of your problems.
Which one best suits your needs: Counselling or Psychotherapy?
The real difference seems to lie in the training, qualification and experience of the therapist.
It can take a long time to become a psychotherapist in the United Kingdom and is gained at the post-graduate level, taking four - six-years to achieve.
Whereas training to become a counsellor in the UK can take as little as two years to qualify as a counsellor, at the further education level.
While counselling does usually involve some work on the client's past, it is more focused on the present and the future and is usually much more structured, with less room to explore thoughts and possibilities compared to psychotherapy.
Who do they aim to help?
Whereas Psychotherapy, in contrast, tends to explore your past issues that may be contributing to present-day problems and explores a lot deeper than counselling, it looks to reach the underlying issues and tends to be longer in duration, due to the type of work involved.
Its aim is to find the very roots and beginnings of your problems and challenges.
Also, Psychotherapists are mental health professionals who are trained to listen to a person's problems to try to find out what's causing them and help them find a solution.
As well as listening and discussing important issues with you, a psychotherapist can suggest strategies for resolving problems and, if necessary, help you change your outlook and behaviour.
Whichever one you choose, an experienced counsellor or psychotherapist will help you to develop a better understanding of yourself and of others.
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