What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Although counselling and psychotherapy share many similarities, there are also accepted distinctions. The focus of counselling is more likely to be on specific problems such as adjusting to changes that occur with different life events and stages, or with dealing with a client’s immediate emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Psychotherapy refers to a longer term therapeutic relationship between a trained therapist and a client. It may address everyday issues such as interpersonal relationships or achieving personal goals; or work towards recovery from particular types of diagnosable mental health concerns, such depression, anxiety or personality disorders. The emphasis of psychotherapy is related more with the restructuring of the personality or self and the growth of insight over time within the safety of a therapeutic relationship.
What is Therapy?
Therapy is an interpersonal relationship between a client and a therapist, which enables the client to develop self-understanding and to make positive and empowering changes in their lives. Therapy may involve working with individuals, couples, families or groups, intervening with current issues or crises, or working through longer term difficulties.
Therapists work within a clearly contracted, principled relationship that enables clients to obtain assistance in exploring and resolving issues of an interpersonal, intra-psychic, or personal nature.
Professional therapists require in-depth training, practice and supervision to develop understanding and knowledge about human behaviour, therapeutic capabilities, and ethical and professional boundaries. They use psychological theories, and a range of advanced relational skills, which facilitate their clients change processes within a therapeutic context. They regard ongoing clinical supervision, professional development, self-awareness, self-development, self-monitoring and self-examination as central to effective and ethical practice. These reflective practices lead to enhanced capacity to utilise the self of the practitioner effectively in the therapeutic relationship.
A professional therapist works from a perspective and position of respect for their clients and their values, beliefs, uniqueness and their right to self-determination. They consider the cultural and sociopolitical context in which the client lives and how these factors affect the client and their wellbeing. They value differences and avoid discrimination on the basis of the different aspects of a client’s identity such as: age and stage of development, (dis)ability, indigenous identity, nationality, religious cultural identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.