What is Counselling & Psychotherapy?

Counselling and psychotherapy are defined and applied differently, by therapists with different approaches, in different parts of the world. There are both similarities and differences between counselling and psychotherapy.


Both are talking therapies that can help you explore concerns, thoughts, feelings, behaviours and improve your mental health and wellbeing. Both offer a listening environment and will help you find ways to deal with emotional and psychological difficulty and distress. Both are confidential and contractual relationships between client and therapist.


I define counselling as a short to mid term intervention in terms of the number of sessions offered. A type of therapy working with conscious thoughts and processes; less in depth with possible areas of specialism. It may have a focus on one particular difficulty that is caused by current circumstances. There is likely to be a here and now focus, helping with surface difficulties and current problems.


I define psychotherapy as short to mid term, as well as a longer term intervention, dependent on client need. It works with conscious, subconscious and unconscious thoughts and processes. It involves extensive training, which includes a requirement for personal development (often in the form of personal psychotherapy), psychiatric placement, with areas of specialism. Its focus can be on a number of difficulties both originating from the past and present. It holds both a there and then, and a here and now focus. It helps with current and historical difficulties and addresses developmental and characterological issues within a reparative relationship.


Please note that this information is a guide and does not necessarily represent the reality of what a specific counsellor or psychotherapist does.

┬ęSarah Nicholson

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