Is there a big difference between Counselling & Psychotherapy?
In fact, there is no massive difference; both are “Talking Therapies” or Psychological Therapies”.
What matters to a client in distress is that the trained professional who works with them can listen to their problems and help them find a more suitable way forward. Whether someone is called a Counsellor or a Psychotherapist, or both, they should be able to work with a client on a range of issues, for short-term or long-term work, as needed.
Therapists Do More Than Listening
The “blank screen” cliche where therapists barely engage with clients is another leftover from the early days of psychotherapy.
“Therapy is an interactive process because it is a relationship,”. “In the beginning, I may speak less or ask more questions as I am getting to know my client but as time goes on, I do share my thoughts when it will be helpful.”
But Therapists Don’t Tell You What To Do
They will guide you to solutions they believe are best, but won’t directly suggest things “I cannot make you do anything, nor do I want to do so,” It’s up to clients to apply what they learn during sessions, unless of course we agree that coaching skills are used and are beneficial in our work then it will be more structured.
Counselling /Psychotherapy rarely works
Therapy, like many other forms of helping (medicine, personal training, etc) can help people to a greater or lesser extent depending on many factors – other sources of support, emotional readiness to change, clarity and realism of goals, etc…
The “chemistry” between therapist and client is also be an important factor, so any particular client will find that some therapists will suit them better than others. The working relationship, or “Therapeutic Alliance” seems to be the main thing that gives Counselling /Psychotherapy its value.
Counselling /Psychotherapy should always take a long time
Only psychiatrists and psychologists can do Counselling /Psychotherapy
Either of these professional groups can provide Counselling /Psychotherapy if they are qualified to do so (however some aren’t).
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialised in the area of Mental Health. Their primary role is still to prescribe medication, though most have some training in Counselling/Psychotherapy.
Psychologists work in a variety of areas, as educational psychologists, research psychologists, forensic psychologists, etc. Some specialise as Clinical Psychologists, in which case they are likely to work with some Mental Health issues.
Some specialise as Counselling Psychologists, in which case they do the same work as Counsellors/Psychotherapists, in other words “Talking Therapy”.
Most people who describe themselves as Counsellors and/or Psychotherapists do not come from any of these related professional backgrounds (though some may). They are trained from scratch in the profession of Counselling & Psychotherapy.
Only one kind of Counselling /Psychotherapy works (Psychodynamic, CBT etc)
Counselling /Psychotherapy is still developing as a profession, and there are still a variety of approaches and theories. These will gradually become more and more integrated with each other – in the meantime, many Counsellors /Psychotherapists work in an “eclectic” way, using the best from different approaches depending on the client’s issues.
Counsellors/Psychotherapists have their own lives all worked out
Therapists can sometimes be seen that way, and might even believe it themselves sometimes, but it is definitely a myth!
Clients always become over-dependent on their Counsellors/Psychotherapists
Clients rarely become over-dependent on their Counsellors/Psychotherapists
It’s a risk, as with any situation where someone is helping someone else who is vulnerable, but it’s definitely not the norm, and a well-trained therapist will be able to handle it sensitively.