by Dr. Becky Spelman on 21/12/2018
WHAT IS COUNSELLING?
Counselling is an often misunderstood form of therapy. When you come to see us, our Counsellors Private Therapy Clinic (Rather than one of the Psychologists or Psychotherapists), it won’t be to receive specific advice or instruction on what you should be doing to address your current situation. Counsellors don’t offer evidenced-based Therapies like Psychologists and Psychotherapists, and for this reason, their fees are usually lower.
Counselling is a form of talk therapy where the focus is on opening up about your current life issues, but one in which you’re encouraged to do so in a way that allows you to come to your own realisations. The role of your Counsellor is to facilitate this process by asking the questions that help you peel away the layers of your issue so you can then address the underlying problem. In this sense, it’s very much a co-creative endeavour meant to empower you as the individual to take control of your own life.
It’s also important to point out that counselling is not a form of evidence-based therapy, in that, although it can certainly be of great benefit to you, it isn’t backed up by scientific research. If you would be more interested in treatment that utilises these kinds of techniques, we would recommend seeing one of our HCPC registered Psychologists or a BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. For more information on these types of therapy you can learn more here.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Although there is a lot of overlap and they’re sometimes considered to be one and the same by some people, there are some notable differences between counselling and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is traditionally carried out over a longer period and deals with your emotional state, focusing on your issue by addressing the root cause.
Counselling, on the other hand, is more structured, and behaviour focused with courses of treatment taking place over a shorter timeframe. Whereas other forms of psychotherapy encourage you to modify your thoughts and feelings, counselling is considered slightly more hands-on, as it centres on your personal development and making practical changes to your life.
However, if you feel you would benefit from both of these models, there is a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which has proven highly effective in creating significant life changes after only 6-8 sessions in most cases. This approach along with all other forms of psychotherapy incorporates elements of counselling along with other psychotherapeutic methods. However, it’s important to point out that counselling does not involve the use of any psychotherapy techniques being that it’s a non evidence-based therapy. You can learn more about evidence-based therapies here.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COUNSELLOR AND A PSYCHOLOGIST?
There is understandably some confusion about the differences between the roles of a Counsellor and a Psychologist, as it isn’t uncommon for some Counsellors to refer to themselves as a Psychologist and vice versa. It can also be the case that some Psychologists will tell you that their approach incorporates elements counselling alongside psychotherapeutic techniques. This obviously makes choosing who you go and see much less straight forward than it should be. To help make the decision easier for you, here are the main differences between the two roles you need to consider when making your choice.
A Counsellor will have completed an introduction to counselling course, a certificate in counselling skills as well as their core practitioner training to at least diploma level, which can also be attained at bachelors, masters or doctorate level. Upon completion of 100 hours supervised placement they can then register with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) as being fully accredited. The approach a Counsellor takes is very much a practical one focused on what’s affecting you in the present and encourages you to engage your own problem-solving skills to find a way past your challenges with a non-suggestive approach to questioning. This means they tend to see people for personal difficulties such aswork and domestic issues, break-ups and bereavement rather than mental illnesses with counselling generally being a short-term therapy.
A Psychologist, also referred to as a Clinical Psychologist or Counselling Psychologist (you can read about the difference here), will have acquired a PhD alongside a degree in psychology as well as being registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). They will also engage you in talk therapy, although in this case,there are many different avenues they may offer, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic Therapy, to name a few. Psychologists take a much more in-depth approach by focusing on your formative experiences as both a child and young adult to determine what has led to your current situation. As such, they tend to focus more on severe mental health issues with it not being uncommon for them to work alongside Psychiatrists, being that these are the only professionals who can prescribe medication.
WHAT WILL YOUR FIRST COUNSELLING SESSION LOOK LIKE?
Before coming to your first appointment, we recommend writing down your main issues to bring along, as it’s not uncommon for people to forget important details in the flow of conversation. Once you’ve been introduced to your Counseller and seated comfortably, you’ll then be able to explain why you’ve decided to see us, so we can then determine how best to tackle your problem.
During this stage, we’ll also be able to advise you on whether counselling is, in fact, the right choice for you given your particular circumstances. It may be that after speaking with us that there’s another, more effective way of resolving your issues. In order to offer that to you, you’ll be asked some basic questions regarding your past history of mental health, current situation and family dynamic.
From there, you can make an informed decision with the guidance of your Counsellor about how you’d like to proceed. As always, we place a huge emphasis on treating all people who come to see us as individuals and make every effort to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. When you come to see us in any capacity, you can be confident that we’re interested in you the person first and foremost, and helping you find the right outcome for your circumstances.
IF I’M SEEKING PRIVATE COUNSELLING, WHAT SHALL I DO NEXT?
If you’d like some free impartial advice on whether counselling can help get you past the brick wall that’s currently standing in the way of living the life you want, we offer a free, 15-minute consultation with no obligation to continue.
To claim yours simply call us on: 020 3887 1738
Or alternatively, you can book online by clicking here.
***All of our counsellors are registered with the British Association Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. New York: American Psychiatric Publishing.
National Health Service. (2018, 5ndSept) Retrieved May 7th, 2019 from, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/counselling/
British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Retrieved May 13th, 2019 from, https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/what-happens-in-therapy/