Counselling or Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy and counselling are both 'talking therapies' and in practice they're very similar and often overlap. They both involve attending sessions regularly each week at the same agreed time.
Counselling is more often thought of in relation to time limited work. This means meeting for an agreed number of weekly counselling sessions (between 6-12). It tends to focus on immediate and specific concerns (e.g. reducing work-related anxiety levels) that are troubling your life now. Counselling can help you gain more clarity about a particular issue, identify realistic options, express your feelings and gain a better understanding of what you want moving forward. The number of sessions you need depends on the type of problems you bring. Some people find a short sequence of sessions sufficient but others may need a longer time to explore their issues in more depth.
Psychotherapy is longer term work and is open-ended as opposed to time limited.
In psychotherapy we explore your present and past experiences in more depth and detail. Thinking about and reflecting on your life history brings you greater self-awareness, clarity and self-understanding. It can help bring insight into how your past impacts your life, behaviour and relationships in the present. For example, if you find yourself caught in a repetitive pattern of thinking or behaviour that you seem to have no control over (e.g. over-thinking, anger management, difficulty trusting others) then the roots of this may lie in childhood experiences. Understanding yourself and your history better provides an opportunity to change unhelpful patterns that are restricting your life and creativity now. It can give you the option to take a new path and not repeat the past.
I'm trained as a psychotherapist and tend to work in depth, on an open-ended basis. However, I also offer focused, time-limited counselling.
It should be remembered that psychotherapy and counselling are not magic cures and at times it may feel hard going. However, psychotherapy/counselling can:
- help you gain insight into your current difficulties
- provide a space where you can discover and/or express what you really think and feel, in confidence.
- increase your self awareness and thus help you discover what's best for you.
Attending on a regular, weekly basis is essential for counselling and psychotherapy as each session builds on the previous weeks.
What happens in the first session?
It may seem a bit daunting coming for psychotherapy or counselling for the first time and it may feel strange to talk about personal experiences to someone who is unknown to you. This is why it is important to find the 'right' therapist for you as an individual. This basically means they need to be someone you feel at ease with, able to trust and talk to freely. A good relationship between us is key to the effectiveness of counselling or psychotherapy.
In the first meeting our main task is to discuss and think about your concerns together and find out if the way I work is going to be helpful and meaningful to you; whether you feel at ease with me and we are able to engage with working together. We also talk about whether you are thinking of coming for short term counselling or more longer term psychotherapy. Often it doesn't become clear which is more appropriate until we have seen each other a few times. However, there's no obligation to continue after the first session if you decide not to.
If you decide to continue with counselling or psychotherapy after the initial session then we arrange to meet weekly at the same regular time. I offer both short and long term work - the decision lies with you how long you wish to come for and what you want to focus on in our work together.