‘Counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ can be used interchangeably. They both seek to bring about change and increased awareness of your situation. However, they are slightly different in a number of ways.
The level of training for the practitioner
Counselling qualifications can be achieved faster than psychotherapy qualifications – sometimes in just two or three years. Therefore, counselling and psychotherapy have different lengths (and depths) of training.
The length of treatment for the client
Counselling may be shorter than psychotherapy. ‘Time-limited counselling’ can be just four to six sessions, whereas psychotherapy is longer, sometimes continuing over a number of years, allowing for the deeper nature of the work. Psychotherapy also works specifically with the unconscious, aiming to make it conscious – allowing us to be more as we choose to be.
A combination of both practices
For these reasons, and because of the range of training and qualifications I have, I use the term ‘therapy’, bridging the two practices and working with a combination of both.
A space to be seen and heard
My philosophy is therapy provides a space for you to be heard, because you have a need – and a right – to be seen and heard. By doing this, we have the opportunity to be our true selves.
This is a simplistic view of what therapy provides, but it underpins what I believe to be the essence of it. I see therapy as the time to come into contact with yourself through the presence of another (the therapist) who is focussed on you and has your best interests at heart.
This creates a ‘containing’ space in which you discover your own answers, understand yourself more fully and come to conclusions about the struggles that bring you into therapy.
Individual therapy – finding yourself
I believe one’s sense of self has firm roots in early relationships and the attachments created in this fundamental time of development i.e. in early childhood. Studies of infant attachment show the impact of the parent-child relationship on the infant; at some level, whether conscious or unconscious, these early experiences are remembered. This becomes a familiar way to live, even when it no longer serves or fits us, and even seems to damage us or others.
Low self-esteem, depression, difficulty with intimacy and other emotional experiences can be altered when we can make sense of why they are present in the first place. With heightened awareness, we have a choice. Change is possible and we can go forward with a better sense of ourselves and our ability to be in this world.
Couples therapy – a place to communicate
For couples, the emphasis on being heard is often pivotal. Communication between a couple can be complicated, stuck, or largely absent. I work with the dynamics of my couples as well as considering each individual’s family history to understand what roles are being recreated – helpfully or unhelpfully.
Couples find the presence of a therapist can help them say what feels risky or difficult. It can provide a means of learning how to communicate better. It can help the couple rediscover one another, It can be a time to reflect on their shared journey and reassess what needs to happen for the couple to move forward, either together or separately.
Therapy is a confidential and professional relationship. The focus is on you and your experience in the world, with your therapist accompanying you along the journey.