Counsellors & Psychotherapists
Counsellor or Psychotherapist?
A counsellor will generally focus on what is happening to you in the present and what are the current issues in your life that prompt you to seek help. This could be difficulties at home, work, a specific adverse such as a relationship conflict and difficulties, a relationship breakup, bereavement, losing your job, or even just feeling more stressed or anxious than usual. A counsellor will look at your immediate presenting symptoms and concerns and how they impact your life. Looking at these symptoms, the counsellor will focus on equipping you with understanding, communication skills and developing tools and resources that can help you to shift unhelpful or negative thought patterns, feelings and behaviours. Counselling tends to involve once weekly sessions and has a shorter duration, up to three months.
You will be encouraged to talk openly about your experiences, concerns, thoughts and emotions with a trained counsellor who will aim to provide a safe, supportive space for you and who will listen empathetically without judgment or criticism. Counselling is about exploring and understanding the nature and pattern of difficulties and finding ways to help you to shift, change, influence problems and address difficult circumstances.
Generally speaking a psychotherapist will work in a similar way to a counsellor, but perhaps taking a more in-depth focus on emotions, emotional regulation and the earlier experiences you encountered growing up as a child, adolescent and young adult. A psychotherapist is also focussed on your presenting symptoms and issues, exploring with you how earlier life experiences have shaped who you are today. The therapy aims to nurture opportunities for personal growth and development by improving your ability to reflect, emotionally regulate and compassionately understand yourself and other people from many different perspectives. These factors are understood to contribute to improved psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Counsellor or Psychotherapist?
As previously mentioned, the differences between a counsellor and a psychotherapist aren’t always clear-cut with the two terms tending to be used interchangeably. This can make things very confusing when you’re trying to decide what type of therapist to choose. Psychotherapy and Counselling are both talking therapies and use similar approaches. The professions and professional titles do not have statutory regulation in the UK which means anyone can describe themselves as a counsellor or psychotherapist even after completing a relatively short training. It is imperative that you check the professional registration of your chosen therapist.
There are four main Counselling and Psychotherapy professional bodies in the UK who have online registers where you can check the details and professional standing of your prospective therapist.
- BCP (The British Psychoanalytic Council)
- UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy)
- BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
- BABCP (The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies)
Other reputable therapy professional bodies e.g. Play therapy, Child psychoanalysis will be registered and accredited by the statutory body the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This means they have met and continue to meet the PSA’s required professional standards to practise.
‘At Surrey Healthcare Clinic all of our professionals have appropriate professional qualifications, training and experience. You can find their current details on the professional registers as outline above.
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