What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy

 

A common difficulty is the apparently interchangeable use of the words "counselling" and "psychotherapy" by some writers, therapists, and the determined distinction drawn by others. These differences range from the degree of disturbance in the client, to the setting, type of problem, number of sessions, and techniques used.
Many authors like Carl Rogers for example, use the terms counselling and psychotherapy interchangeably and also states that efforts to distinguish counselling and psychotherapy have not been successful or convincing. Perhaps it is possible to distinguish an element of impatience with the semantics of this debate when professionally trained counsellors or psychotherapists do not try to make distinctions about whether they are engaged in counselling or psychotherapy: they "...take the client where he is and continue with him as far as he can or is willing to go".
According to the counsellors Code of ethics: "It is not possible to make a generally accepted distinction between counselling and psychotherapy. There are well founded traditions which use the terms interchangeably and others which distinguish them". When the terms "counselling" and "psychotherapy" are used in their widest sense they encompass each other. On the other hand these terms are sometimes used to distinguish between these two roles. The criteria for the distinction vary according to the speaker’s point of view.
If we look back at the history of counselling as dealing with problems which are primarily pressures from the outside environment rather than deeply embedded difficulties resulting in stringent, neurotic patterns. In this sense, counselling is about helping people who have the capacity to cope in most circumstances but who are experiencing temporary difficulties, or making transitions or adjustments in their life. Issues arising from difficult relationships at home, making decisions, coping with serious illness, bereavement, addiction, etc., may all be within the scope of counselling.
Also the term "counselling" includes work with individuals and with relationships which may be developmental, crisis support, psychotherapeutic, guiding or problem solving... The task of counselling is to give the "client" an opportunity to explore, discover and clarify ways of living more satisfyingly and resourcefully.
Counselling indicate a professional relationship between a trained counsellor and a client. This relationship is usually person-to-person, although it may sometimes involve more than two people (in group counselling). It is designed to help clients to understand and clarify their views of their life space, and to learn to reach their self-determined goals through meaningful, well-informed choices and through resolution of problems of an emotional or interpersonal nature.
Counselling is also provided under a variety of different labels. To employ a metaphor from the world of business, there are a range of competing products that offer the consumer or client more or less the same service. The up market version of the product is sold as "psychotherapy", which is usually provided by practitioners who are highly trained specialist professionals, often with a background in medicine. Psychotherapy can be a lengthy process. Although there is an increasing interest in forms of "brief" psychotherapy, which may consist of a series of ten or twelve sessions, it is probably fair to say that most psychotherapists would consider it necessary for clients to be in treatment for a year or more for beneficial results to occur. The most expensive and exclusive version of psychotherapy remains classical Freudian psychoanalysis.
        There has been considerable debate over the difference between counselling and psychotherapy. Some would claim that a clear distinction can be made between the two, with psychotherapy representing a deeper, more fundamental or involved process of change with more disturbed clients. Others maintain that counsellors and psychotherapists are basically doing the same kind of work, using identical approaches and techniques, but are required to use different titles in response to the demands. For example, traditionally psychotherapy has been the term used in medical settings such as psychiatric units, and counselling the designation for people working in educational settings such as student counselling centres. However, both counselling and psychotherapy can be viewed as activities distinct from advice-giving, caring and teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

Membership No. VV00P02
NCS AVR Logo