What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a type of therapy that aims to alleviate psychological distress by talking. It has proved helpful in addressing several issues such as:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • generalised anxiety
  • relationship issues
  • affairs and betrayals
  • abuse
  • separation and divorce
  • addiction(s)
  • anger management
  • family issues
  • phobias
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • bereavement
  • emotional abuse
  • career counselling
  • sexual abuse
  • low self-esteem
  • suicide and suicidal thoughts

Psychotherapy can help us to understand our problems better, identify our motivations for our behaviour and find ways to cope with our distress.

It does this by exploring feelings, beliefs, thoughts and events both present and in the past.  The psychotherapist is trained to make links and spot patterns of behaviour that might be causing the distress.  They are able to ask the best questions to bring the right issues to light.  They might also help bring to light different options for moving forward.  This is done in a safe, structured environment at a pace that is suitable for the client.

Can we start with counselling and move to psychotherapy?

Yes, and this is very common with clients. You might come in to talk about one issue but realise that that is not actually your main concern, or that it sparks off thoughts about other areas in your life you want to look at.

Can we start off with just a few sessions and see how it goes?

Yes, signing up to long term psychotherapy can be daunting so it makes sense to try it out first.  We can contract to meet for perhaps 6 sessions to begin with and agree to review our work after those sessions.

How are psychotherapy and counselling different?
This is a hotly debated issue so you might find several different answers to this.

The commonly accepted idea is that:

Psychotherapy is usually more in depth, looking at problems that have built up over a number of years and usually have their roots in the past. Psychotherapists are trained to understand human development and understand how past issues can impact the present.

Counselling is usually shorter in length and looks at only one or two issues. It is generally for those who have a good sense of well-being but are currently going through a crisis and need some help to resolve it.

Training to become a psychotherapist is usually longer and more in-depth than training to become a counsellor.

So should I choose counselling or psychotherapy?
If you generally have a good sense of well-being with good coping strategies but you are currently undergoing a period of stress or crisis and you want to concentrate on resolving that one issue then counselling may be your best bet.

If you have always had a general feeling of unease, low confidence, anxiety or sadness or if this feeling has been with you for a while and it is a familiar feeling then perhaps it has its roots in your past or a trauma that happened a while ago. In this case, psychotherapy might be a better choice.

In some ways it doesn’t matter because counselling often includes psychotherapeutic elements and psychotherapy can be scaled down to counselling. However, it does depend on the counsellor or psychotherapist you see. Some counsellors are not trained to do in-depth work so the only thing you have to check if you want in-depth work is that your counsellor has been trained to deliver that kind of therapy.

What is the difference between the counselling and psychotherapy you offer?
When I offer counselling, I stick to the issue that you come with and keep our explorations to that one issue. We might keep more of an eye on the present and how you cope with issues in your everyday life. My counselling is done in a psychotherapeutic manner though so I do look for links and patterns in behaviour.

When I offer psychotherapy, we can be more open in our exploration and go where the session takes us and pick up links and patterns on the way.