What is the difference between counseling and psychotherapy?
The terms counseling and psychotherapy are often used in an interchangeable manner to describe services provided by helping professionals. In a general counseling describes therapeutic interventions where the focus is more directive in approach while therapy refers to an approach with more of an increased focus on the dynamic interaction between client and worker within the process.
Why do people seek counseling and psychotherapy?
The are numerous reasons why people enter therapy. Sometimes it’s to work through life traps or long standing psychological issues. Sometimes it to deal with feelings of anxiety, depression or feeling conflicted or overwhelmed. At times it’s in response to unexpected losses or life transitions such as divorce or new parenthood. For others its because relationships are not working or they’re dissatisfied with their careers. Some people enter therapy for help with stress management, an eating disorder or coping with illness, disability or issues related to care giving.
Does counseling or psychotherapy work?
Research conducted by Consumer Reports (Nov 95 and Oct 04) has found that most people benefit from psychotherapy provided by a qualified mental health professional. This is very important and interesting for two reasons; First; Validation by a trusted consumer advocate speaks for itself, and second; The value of psychotherapy being extolled by a consumer group that evaluates goods and services of broad general interest indicates that psychotherapy has gained a very wide social acceptance. In short, Psychotherapy works, many people have benefitted from the services of a qualified mental health professional to improve their lives, and so can you.
Does the type of approach or orientation matter?
In general, most of the established therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral, psycho-dynamic, humanistic, client centered, existential, family systems, and variations of these approaches are all helpful in terms of effectiveness. Many therapists use multiple approaches tailored to the specific needs of the client. For some diagnoses there are certain specific evidence based treatments and protocols that have been shown to be most effective.
How is therapy different form talking to a good friend?
Therapy provides a neutral and non judgmental perspective which affords greater opportunity for exploration and discovery. The therapist’s interests are focused on the needs of the client and are vested within the therapeutic process itself. Therapists are trained to listen and focus in ways which are different from how a friend will hear you. A therapist's function is simply to understand what you are saying, in comparison to a friend, who's motivations are often more complex and personal. The therapeutic relationship has certain components and safeguards that allow for a comprehensive exploration of meanings and feelings.
What benefits might I get from engaging in counseling or therapy?
Benefits from counseling or therapy can vary among individuals according to the problems you present, the goals you wish to obtain, how well you are able to use the therapeutic process and put your learning into practice. In general, the following benefits can result from engagement in counseling and therapy:
Resolution of issues and concerns that have been bothering you.
Increased understanding of who you are, your values, your needs, your desires, and your goals.
Increase in self esteem and self confidence.
Increase in skills for improving relationships.
Management of anger, depression, anxiety, sadness and feelings of loneliness.
Discovering new ways to cope.
Processing loss and grief.
Improving communication skills.
Discovering and challenging lifetraps.
Developing more effective behaviors and changing those patterns that are not working for you.
What will a session be like?
Your first session will involve about 75 to 90 minutes of therapeutic time. It will be diagnostic as well as therapeutic and involve a comprehensive assessment of you and your situation. During our time together we will focus on your presenting problem, your goals, and your personal history. Therapy sessions are unique in that the conversation focuses on you and your specific issues and concerns. Following the initial assessment, sessions usually take place on a weekly basis and last for about 50 minutes. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions.
Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or issues of personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant article or book or keeping records to track certain behaviors. It will be important between sessions for you to reflect on what has been discussed , process it, and take opportunity for it’s integration into your life in order to achieve the maximum benefit.