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What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Traditionally, there has been a long standing debate over the differences between counselling and psychotherapy. They are both 'talking' therapies with the objective of helping and supporting people to live more satisfying and resourceful lives. In general terms, counselling focuses on resolving a specific problem or issue and for that reason the therapy is usually time-limited or short-term. Psychotherapy is concerned with addressing, exploring and resolving in-depth problems or issues and for that reason the duration of therapy is often long-term.

Is therapy private and confidential?

Yes, it is. The privacy and confidentiality of my clients are paramount. The information you share is never disclosed to anyone. Also, clients confidentiality is one of the main codes of conduct that counsellors and psychotherapists must abide to. Legally, I can however be forced to break confidentiality should you be involved in an illegal activity or you were at serious risk of harming yourself or others.

I am considering therapy. Do I have a mental health illness?

No, most probably, you don’t. People choose to have therapy for different reasons. In the majority of cases, therapy does not imply a mental health problem.

Which is the best psychological or theoretical approach for my issue?

You may have come across recommendations that particular therapeutic approaches are effective for specific issues (i.e. anxiety, depression, stress, etc.). In actual fact, there is no concrete research evidence to show that one approach is more effective than any other.

Is therapy the way forward
for me?

Therapy does not suit everybody. Counselling and psychotherapy are about change. If you are not interested or willing to change, then therapy is not for you.

How many sessions are necessary in order to resolve my problem?

It would be inappropriate to recommend a fixed number of sessions before a professional assessment has taken place. The duration of therapy depends on the formulation of your issue and your expectations. At the end of the first or second appointments (assessment), I would be able to advice you at an individual level.

How frequent are the sessions?

The frequency of your sessions is mutually agreed at the end of your first or second appointment. However, for an effective outcome, therapy shouldn't be too fragmented. Therefore, weekly appointments will often be recommended.

How can I choose a good counsellor?

A good starting point would be a well-trained, qualified and experienced therapist who is a member of a professional body like the BACP or UKCP.

How would I know that therapy is working for me?

You would be able to tell within the first few sessions. It is often the case that clients can feel worse for a time before they get better. That is because sometimes, therapy brings up buried issues which may be upsetting until they are dealt with.

How would I know you are the right counsellor for me?

I have substantial experience and I take what I do very seriously. I am well trained and fully qualified. These are only some qualities of a ‘good’ therapist. Feeling comfortable to work with me is equally important! If you decide that I’m not the right therapist for you, that's fine! There are alternative routes which we could discuss, if you wish.

How do I know when
to end therapy?

You will know when the time comes. If you are not sure, we could discuss it at the time. In the majority of cases, it is beneficial to have mutually agreed beforehand when therapy should end rather than to stop your therapy abruptly.

©2012 mg Counselling & Psychotherapy