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What’s the difference between a Psychotherapist and a Counsellor?

What’s the difference between a Psychotherapist and a Counsellor?

A therapist can often provide both counselling and psychotherapy because psychotherapy often requires more training.

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. It’s focus is on the person’s thought processes, and how these are influenced by past events that may cause problems in the present.

Counsellors work generally focuses on a current issue that is affecting the client at the moment.  Psychotherapists both think and work at a deeper process level, taking into account the client’s history, upbringing and any important life events. These all play a part in how personality traits are developed in early childhood as these can be played out in adulthood.

A psychotherapist will be looking for behaviour patterns that link to decisions made in childhood, for example ‘don’t trust’, ‘be perfect’ or ‘be strong’.

These can be ‘played’ out in the client’s life today. The therapy brings these behaviour patterns into awareness so the client can work in the sessions on making a change in these areas.

Counselling and psychotherapy are often used interchangeably, however they are in fact very different.

The training to become psychotherapist in the UK is at post-graduate level and covers a four to five-year period, compared to counselling which can be as little as two years at the further education level.

In practice, counselling and psychotherapy look similar, however, the process can be very different.

Because of the differences Psychotherapy is usually over a longer period, whilst counselling may be completed over a 6 to 8 week period as it is usually only focussing on one specific issue.

The ‘therapeutic relationship’ is as important as the type of therapy you receive.

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.

The therapy 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.

Psychotherapy and Counselling can be a life changing process, it can be uplifting and freeing, it can also be draining and emotional.

Therapy or counselling is not done ‘to you’ or ‘at you’.

In order to make a change you have to be willing to fully invest in the process, in yourself and your future.

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