Why Counselling or Psychotherapy ?
As we go through life we learn to develop ways of managing situations which enable us to live well enough. However most of us will, at some point in our lives, find ourselves in situations when our coping strategies no longer work well and we can feel stuck, overwhelmed, or distressed. At these times it can be really useful to get support from a trained professional.
How is this different to talking to someone I know ?
Friends, family or work colleagues can be a good form of support. However, sometimes individuals can be concerned about burdening them or how they may react or about upsetting them. It may feel hard to share some sensitive personal information or they could be the reason you are feeling distressed. You may also need more specialist support. It maybe for these reasons, or others, that talking to a Counsellor or Psychotherapist can be really useful.
Counsellors / Psychotherapists can offer:
- a safe and confidential space
- a time and place just for you
- a non-judgemental approach
- specialist skills, knowledge and experience to address your specific needs
- support to make changes
- working within an ethical framework of how to work safely with you
What is the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy ?
There is no agreed definition of the difference between counselling and psychotherapy. Generally psychotherapy trainings take longer, over 4-5 years. Psychotherapists are required to have more personal therapy, complete a psychiatric placement, do more in-depth work and see more clients in order to qualify and become registered with the UKCP. However experienced Counsellors who have done subsequent training may be working in a similar way to Psychotherapists. Much depends on the length and depth of training of each practitioner and how they practice.
What can Counselling and Psychotherapy help with ?
Therapy can help people with a range of difficulties. Some times these can be very specific clear challenges and for others it may be less clear and is a general sense that things don't feel right or not quite meeting ones potential.
The sorts of issues people bring can be around:
- bereavements, loss
- difficulties in relationships; partners; family; children; work colleagues; friends
- stress at work or home
- bullying, harassment
- gender identity and sexuality
- life changes and transitions
- low mood, depression
How might Counselling and Psychotherapy help ?
Counselling and Psychotherapy can work in various ways to enable you to improve your wellbeing. These may include just being able to say whats concerning you out loud and for someone to hear and receive that, which helps you get a sense of what it is you are with and having another perspective on it. Other times it maybe more focused on developing new skills and ways of coping. It can also entail learning about our unconscious processes and beliefs that shape how we respond to things and learning to do it differently.
How a Counsellor and Psychotherapist works with you will also depend on their training and method. However research shows that it is the relationship with the therapist that is most effective in reaching a positive outcome. Therefore it is important to choose a therapist who you can trust and feel able to share things of concern to you.
Choosing a therapist
When looking for a therapist to approach some things to look for are:
- Are they registered and/ or accredited with a professional body
- What level of training and experience have they had
- Any specialist experience that is relevant to what you are needing
- Their fees, accessibility and available space
Once you have identified a possible therapist it is important to meet them for an initial consultation and see if they are someone you might feel able to work with. It maybe that you meet several therapists before deciding who you feel best able to work with.
Process of Therapy
The initial consultation is an opportunity for you and the therapist to meet and see if you can work together. They will also, with you, decide on the focus on the work, how you are going to work together and over what period of time. Sometimes it may be for a fixed period of time and sometimes open ended.
Therapy can be long or short term depending what you are bringing and how you wish to address things. It maybe that you want support through a crisis or some new ideas about how to manage a specific situation. This is likely to be shorter term work, say six weeks. If instead you are wanting to explore more deeply about how you come to be the way you are or feel a more fundamental difficulty in being in the world then this is likely to be longer term work, months or several years.
During your therapy there can be a mix of experiences. Sometimes things really flow and you can make leaps in understanding and feel able to make changes. At other times it can feel slow and as if nothing is changing. There can also be times, especially when touching on sensitive experiences that you can feel stuck for a bit. All of these experiences are very usual. However if you are concerned that it is not working for you it is really important that you talk to your therapist about this.
Ending therapy can be following an agreed number of sessions set at the beginning the therapy. It may also be that you feel that you have made enough progress to manage things on your own or maybe your circumstances have changed. It is important to discuss and agree any ending with the therapist so that you can have a session/s to end the work together.
If you would like further information on Counselling or Psychotherapy then this is available on the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website page called it's good to talk or from the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy.