What’s the difference between
counselling and psychotherapy?
The purpose of counselling is to enable a client to unpick what is happening in their life in an empathetic non-judgemental way. Counselling is not about giving or receiving advice. It is about two (or more) people spending specific, pre-agreed, boundaried time together in a safe and confidential environment.
Many of us at some point in our lives will experience a period of difficulty. Life crisis, loss of control, direction or ability to recognise stress points or to think things through can be frightening and make us feel weak. Crucially it doesn’t mean we are weak or self-absorbed. It means we need time to work things through – space and support without any judgement can be hard to find in everyday life. This is where a counsellor can make an enormous difference.
It is not unusual to experience repeated patterns of behaviour. This may be in relation to friendships, intimacy, eating, drinking, working or any number of seemingly uncomplicated life-functions. Why would we repeat behaviour that enhances our difficulties? Mostly this is due to unconscious drivers. Indeed only 5 – 15% of our thoughts and behaviours are conscious.
We ‘make’ decisions as children as to the safest way to operate in the world – examples may be ‘if I stay quiet no one will pick on me’ or ‘if I am angry I will be noticed’ from early adulthood onwards such coping strategies become outdated and yet we unwittingly return to our ‘default’ safety setting in times of uncertainty. Sometimes our unconscious processes are a result of traumatic experiences later in life.
Exploring the origins of unconscious behaviour, bringing them into consciousness and supporting lasting change can be achieved through psychotherapy which takes initial counselling to a deeper level.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”Maya Angelou