Counselling is a form of therapy that is widespread in the United States and the United Kingdom. It involves the relationship between a helping professional (the counsellor) and a person who seeks help (the client).
The counsellor explores with the client difficulties they are experiencing, such as stressful and emotional feelings, and helps them to see things more clearly and from a different point of view.
This relationship enables clients to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour with the goal of facilitating positive change. Counselling is a relationship of trust, in which confidentiality is paramount and where the boundaries of the relationship are clearly identified by a contract.
Counselling is none of the following:
The main difference between the two approaches lies in the time required for the client to experience benefits. For example:
• Counselling may offer brief treatment options exploring ways to understand and change clients’ behaviour. It helps to identify crises and problems in life and encourages clients to take positive steps to address them.
• Psychotherapy is more likely to help clients with psychological problems that have built up over a long period of time. It helps identify emotional issues and uncover the reasons for problems and difficulties. Under certain circumstances, counselling may be offered as part of the psychotherapy process and a counsellor may work with clients in a psychotherapeutic way.
Integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that each client needs to be considered as a whole, and psychotherapy and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances. In my own work, I combine humanistic, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural techniques with body work. With the integrative approach the therapist adapts the therapy to each client and specific situation.
Short-term counselling, also known as brief therapy or time-limited therapy, typically refers to solution-based therapy with a distinct goal in mind (e.g. looking at patterns in romantic relationships). This approach usually spans six to twelve sessions.
Open-ended or long-term therapies tend to look at the past, helping clients to understand themselves and how their past may affect things they do today. Open-ended counselling allows more space for the therapist to work relationally; that is, to use the relationship between counsellor and client as part of the therapeutic process. This modality is mostly based on the principles of psychotherapy.
It is recommended that clients attend weekly 1-hour sessions, at least at the beginning of therapy. As for the duration, we will agree a number of sessions or leave it open ended.
The first appointment is mainly informational and does not entail any commitment for further counselling. We will explore the reasons why you have chosen counselling and the areas you would like to explore, improve or achieve. We will also decide how we will work together and set our therapy goals.