The terms counselling and therapy are often used interchangeably, but to a counsellor or a therapist they are each very different methods of working.
Counselling and Therapy Differences
As a general guideline, counselling is more focused on a specific issue the client is experiencing. This issue is usually a problem in their life, something they would like to change but are feeling unable or uncertain as to how. Counselling can be effectively used with individuals who are feeling stressed or under pressure, for those who have an addiction or those experiencing relationship challenges or problems with interpersonal interactions. Counselling can also be used for anger management, bereavement and grief issues, as well as for anxiety and depression.
Counselling is typically focussed around some time of measurable change, or making some final decision. The client has a specific goal in mind, or knows he or she desires a change, and the counsellor helps provide a framework for them to achieve those desired changes.
Therapy or psychotherapy delves deeper than counselling, looking to reach the underlying issues. While counselling does usually involve some work on the client's past, it is more focused on the present and the future. Therapy in contrast tends to be more focused on the past, and the influence the past is having on the now and will have on the future.
Counselling tends to be shorter term, with more specific achievable results. Psychotherapy, due to the type of work involved, tends to be longer in duration. The two are not mutually exclusive though, a client may work with a professional who is a trained psychotherapist as well as a counsellor, and strategies from each can be used as part of an integrated approach to treatment.
The Benefits of Counselling
Most people realise when something is no longer an effective or beneficial thought or behaviour in their life. However, it can be very challenging to make changes in behaviours or create new thoughts to replace ones that are no longer desired.
Working with a counsellor individuals have a trusted professional alongside them, providing the framework and the guidance needed to make those changes. As each person is different each client will have his or her own plan, with goals, lifestyle changes, decisions and choices that are uniquely developed and selected.
Sessions are usually held on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. At these sessions the counsellor and client can talk about issues, explore questions and develop a deeper understanding of how to address them through problem-solving, behavioural changes or a combination of different methods. All information in a counselling session is considered confidential between counsellor and the client, which allows the client to speak freely within a safe emotional environment, explore ideas and strategically plan how to make changes.
Counselling is highly effective for clients of all ages. By talking with a professional and exploring all possible options people can develop their own positive path forward, and make the changes in their life they desire.