Counselling or Psychotherapy?
As I use the words interchangeably I thought it would be good to explain my view on the difference and how it may inform our work together.
Firstly you don’t have to do anything or choose between the two.
As I see it - and this is a generally held approach - counselling is the term used when someone seeks help for a ‘disruption’ that has occurred in their life. For example, a breakdown in a relationship or bereavement. This will form the central focus of our sessions together.
Psychotherapy may well not have such a specific focus on a particular event, but is more of an exploration as to how someone is in the world, and how this may potentially cause unrest. The exploration happens within the relationship between client and therapist and is safely explored together. Due to the deeper nature of psychotherapy it takes longer and is more of a commitment. I would also like to mention at this point how my theoretical underpinning (Existential psychotherapy) informs this. My role is to try and understand from your perspective what it’s like for you being in the world, in a non-judgemental way, and reflect this back to you. This joint exploration and reflection on how you are in the world can be deeply enriching, informative and rewarding. What I don’t look to do is to claim to know more about your life than you do or to interpret your unconscious in any way. We will be equal in this relationship.
However, as I’m sure you are aware, it’s not always so straightforward. The kind of issues that may bring someone to counselling do not happen in a vacuum and the way one responds to difficulty often reflects how one lives their life. Hence the overlapping definitions between the terms, counselling and psychotherapy. It is also worth noting that the skills and methods a counsellor or psychotherapist may use are often interchangeable, with a counsellor being able to work with underlying issues and a psychotherapist being able to help with more immediate concerns.
In our work together I would like you to know that during our contracting, when we discuss the question “What do you want from counselling/therapy?", if our work together changes focus away from our original contract I will check and ask your permission that this is where you wish to go.
If you would like to read more about this, then please see the article here.