I often get asked ‘What is the difference between a Psychotherapist and a Counsellor?’
A therapist can often provide both counselling and psychotherapy, because psychotherapy often requires more training.
A Psychotherapist is qualified to provide counselling, whereas a counsellor may or may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy.
Technically speaking, ‘counsellor’ means ‘advisor’. It involves two people working together to solve a problem.
Psychotherapy on the other hand is generally a longer-term treatment that focuses more on gaining insight into chronic physical and emotional issues. Its focus is on the person’s thought processes, and how these may be influenced by past events that may cause problems in the present.
In the video above me and my son Karl try to clear away some of the weeds around therapy that can stop people from getting the help they need . . . Psychotherapist vs Counsellor, NHS vs private, CBT/NLP/talking therapy/person centred therapy etc.
Even as a fully qualified Psychotherapist I can sometimes struggle with all the different terms, qualifications and acronyms around therapy.
The main thing is how does the therapist make you FEEL?
Don’t give up on therapy, keep trying until you find the therapist that feels right for you. It is often not the type of therapy but the therapist you are not connecting with. In the video I talk about my own experience of not connecting with a therapist, so I changed therapist and instantly felt more engaged and present in the sessions.
Things to explore after your introductory session with a Psychotherapist or Counsellor . . .
How soon did you feel relaxed with them?
I always talk about being ‘A good fit’,
there are many levels to this so let’s look at a few:
Is the place and time of the session working for you? If it’s stressful getting there then talk about this. How can things be changed to make it a better ‘fit’ for you?
Notice your feelings . . . do you feel comfortable? Obviously it can be an emotional experience seeing a Psychotherapist or Counsellor, do you feel able to express yourself or are you ‘watering’ yourself down?
Building trust in the therapeutic relationship can take time, some people take hours some people take years. Do you feel at ease discussing this in the sessions?
I encourage clients to be curious and explore in the sessions, to question and to discuss not only the issues they bring but their process, and their journey. Psychotherapy and counselling is often about awareness.
“When we talked about X,Y or Z I suddenly felt ……… and I’m not sure why?”
This can be an opening to explore something at a deeper level.
Are you able to go at your own pace?
Do you know what that is?
You may be seeking help with a specific issue and want support in moving through this or you may be looking for a deeper understanding of repeating behaviour patterns.
So again, it is important that you feel able to communicate this with your Psychotherapist or Counsellor. If you feel rushed in a session or frustrated that you are moving too slowly explore this.
Does the Psychotherapist or Counsellor talk your language?
Do they use jargon and long words that you don’t quite understand? Are you having to ‘think’ a lot about what is being discussed rather than the conversation flowing? Does it feel awkward or clunky?
We all communicate in unique ways, if you are having to ‘work hard’ in a session to feel understood that can detract from the connection between you both. It’s ok to talk about this in the sessions.
Do qualifications and experience matter?
Obviously I would advise seeing someone who is qualified to practice Psychotherapy or Counselling but it can be quite confusing as there are so many different types of therapy, and qualifications . . . you can gain some from a 4 hour online course and others from a 4 year university degree.
Do you want to see someone who has a lot of qualifications and experience, is that important to you? Or is the connection and the feeling you get from the person more important?
You might find your thoughts and feelings change as you progress. Part of the process is being able to talk openly about this without fear of judgement.
‘Trust your gut’ is something I say regularly.
Do first impressions count?
It takes just 7 seconds to come up with our first impression of somebody.
Scary thought, we process so much information from our past in that 7 seconds, without even realising we are doing it.
There is so much information on the internet about ‘how to make a good first impression’, ‘how others see you’, ‘have a winning smile’.
I often talk about relationships and communication being 50/50. Both are responsible for how the interaction is sent and received.
That is to say I am responsible for how I send and how I receive the content!
Do I really want to make a change?
Be honest with yourself, do YOU want to make a change, or do you want OTHERS to change?
It’s absolutely OK to offload in a therapy session. The time is yours to spend however you choose. The session is valuable as it is one of the few places where you can share without fear of criticism or judgement.
Often people use therapy as a safe place to explore thoughts and feelings about life events, relationships, work and other situations. Sometimes it’s used to set goals, or gain clarity over an issue.
Being more aware often opens the door to change. Awareness of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Repeating patterns, overthinking, self-sabotage.
Psychotherapy and Counselling can help you to unpick why you do what you do and once you have the awareness around that you then have a choice if you want to continue to do it or make a change.
It can be a simple process with an ‘A HA’ moment or an insight that is so clear. Or it can be a process of peeling back the layers with smaller moments of clarity.
The way we make a change is by understanding or realising that we make choices. These choices can often be habitual so we don’t even notice them.
Realising that we have a choice can be scary and overwhelming or liberating and freeing, that too is a choice. Making a change is choosing to do something different to what we usually do.
“Beliefs are choices. First you choose your beliefs, then your beliefs affect your choices.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Psychotherapy and Counselling can be a life changing process, it can be uplifting and freeing, it can also be draining and emotional.
Therapy is a collaboration . . . it is not done ‘to you’ or ‘at you’.
Change happens . . . . it can be gradually or quickly.
Therapy does NOT fix you because you are NOT broken.
There is a couch (in my room) but you don’t need to lie on it.
Therapy is a form of self care and investing in yourself.
Therapists don’t tell you what to do.
Therapists don’t just listen.
Therapists don’t always ask ‘how did that make you feel’?
You don’t NEED to talk about your childhood.
Therapists can’t read your mind.
The therapy session is YOUR time, you choose how to use it, you choose what to share and what not to share. YOU choose to make a change or to not make a change.
You can read more about me and my experience on my about page or if you are ready to take the first step and make a lasting change click the contact me button below and fill in your details on the contact page and I will get straight back to you.
I offer face to face coaching and therapy from my private practice in Chorley, Lancashire or via online Zoom calls.