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Definition of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy and Counselling are professional activities that utilise an interpersonal relationship
to enable people to develop self understanding and to make changes in their lives. Professional
counsellors and psychotherapists work within a clearly contracted, principled relationship that enables
individuals to obtain assistance in exploring and resolving issues of an interpersonal, intrapsychic, or
personal nature. Professional Counselling and Psychotherapy are explicitly contracted and require in-
depth training to utilise a range of therapeutic interventions, and should be differentiated from the use of
counselling skills by other professionals.
Professional Psychotherapy/Counselling
!tilise counselling, psychotherapeutic, and psychological theories, and a set of advanced
interpersonal skills which emphasise facilitating clients" change processes in the therapeutic
context. #his work with client processes is based on an ethos of respect for clients, their values,
their beliefs, their uniqueness and their right to self-determination.
$equire in-depth training processes to develop understanding and knowledge about human
behaviour, therapeutic capacities, and ethical and professional boundaries.
#ake account of the cultural and socio-political context in which the client lives and how these
factors affect the presenting problem. #his includes awareness and assessment of social and
cultural influences such as age, development, %dis&ability, religion, cultural identity, 'ndigenous
identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, nationality and gender. Professional
Psychotherapists and Counsellors value such differences and avoid discrimination on the basis of
these aspects of identity.
(ay involve intervening with current problems, immediate crises, or long-term difficulties. #he
work may be short-term or long-term, depending on the nature of the difficulties, and may involve
working with individuals, couples, families or groups.
Counselling and Psychotherapy occur in a variety of contexts in the public and private sectors.
$egard ongoing clinical supervision, professional development, self-awareness, self-
development, self-monitoring and self-examination as central to effective and ethical practice.
)uch practices lead to enhanced capacity to utilise the self of the practitioner effectively in the
therapeutic relationship.
*lthough Counselling and Psychotherapy overlap considerably, there are also recognised
differences. +hile the work of Counsellors and Psychotherapists with clients may be of considerable
depth, the focus of Counselling is more likely to be on specific problems, changes in life ad,ustments and
fostering clients" wellbeing. Psychotherapy is more concerned with the restructuring of the personality or
self and the development of insight. *t advanced levels of training, Counselling has a greater overlap with
Psychotherapy than at foundation levels.
-urther distinctions regarding psychotherapy and counselling are offered in the $egister )ections
of the P*C-* .ational $egister
P*C-* will be adding further descriptions of the fields of family therapy, relationship and child
counselling and psychotherapy in the near future.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy apply theoretical and clinical knowledge
developed over the last hundred years. #he approach of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic
Psychotherapy is that the source of much of what people think, feel, experience and fear is hidden or
unconscious. #hese unconscious processes can maintain people"s internal suffering, the impact of
trauma, crippling emotional difficulties and unsatisfactory relationships within their social and cultural
#he therapeutic relationship is the foundation for this method and requires commitment and
responsibility from both the psychotherapist and patient/client. #he aim is to work together to make sense
of patients" emotional life and ways of functioning. #he work makes links between present and past as
well as emphasising the patients" here-and-now experience. /xploration of the conscious and
unconscious aspects of the therapeutic relationship %also known as transference and
countertransference& makes this work different from other therapies or from talking to a friend.
#hrough non-,udgemental understanding and interpretative work within the therapeutic
relationship, patients can recognise underlying meanings of dreams, conflicts and fantasies and the way
in which thoughts and feelings are expressed and resisted. #his understanding enables new choices to
be made, and the fulfilment of individuals" unique potential.
Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists complete theoretical and experiential post-
graduate training following a professional qualification. #hey are required to undergo their own
psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy as part of their training, which enables them to
understand distress and symptoms, and be mindful of the possibilities of their own personal biases.
Aims, Approaches and Training Requirements for Counselling, Psychotherapy and
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
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Psychotherapy is meant to:
help someone understand their problems and concerns from a psychological stand-point
process thoughts and feelings from past experiences that impact the present
understand how life context and external stressors impact current functioning
connect with their personal strengths and intuition
develop a plan for healing / change
assist with developing more effective methods of coping and managing life on a daily basis
help someone learn to use effective strategies to prevent return to unhealthy behaviors or
ineffective coping strategies
+hen therapy is successful, a person should feel better able to face life0s challenges using more
healthy and effective coping mechanisms, without regularly scheduled sessions. #ypically, clients start
with weekly sessions and then cut back to biweekly as counseling goals are achieved. +e will suggest
that sessions continue for the time necessary to support a client in maintaining successful change.
)ometimes clients continue with monthly or bimonthly maintenance sessions for a time or ,ust schedule
sessions as needed.
Counseling is a Collaborative Process
/ffective therapy is conducted with continuing input from the client. 1nce we evaluate presenting
problems, we work with the client to develop a treatment plan that prioriti2es individual needs and outlines
strategies to meet goals. #his will guide us in knowing what to look for when therapy is complete.
Progress is reviewed regularly in session and changes are made as needed.
#reatment completion is a collaborative decision that is planned for in advance so that the client
may have the best healing and growth experience possible. 't is important to discuss how a client has or
has not changed, plan for future needs, and have closure with the therapeutic relationship.
'f at any time a client is dissatisfied with the services he or she is receiving, we encourage discussion with
the therapist. #his will assist in resolving important issues with regard to the therapeutic process to create
the most individuali2ed and flexible therapy experience. 3r. 4eyer provides continuing clinical supervision
for all therapists.
What is the Difference et!een Counseling and Psychotherapy"
#he terms Counseling and Psychotherapy are often used interchangeably. #hough they have
similar meanings with considerable overlap, there are some important distinctions between the two that
are helpful to keep in mind when looking for a mental health care provider.
What is Counseling"
Counseling, sometimes called 5talk therapy,6 is a conversation or series of conversations between
a counselor and client. Counseling usually focuses on a specific problem and taking the steps to address
or solve it. Problems are discussed in the present-tense, without too much attention on the role of past
#hough the titles 5counselor6 and 5advisor6 are often used like synonyms, counselors rarely offer
advice. 'nstead, counselors guide clients to discover their own answers and support them through the
actions they choose to take. 'n Colorado, counselors can earn 7icensed Professional Counselor %7PC&
status by satisfying a number of educational, experience, and testing requirements over a period of years.
What is Psychotherapy"
Psychotherapy, like counseling, is based on a healing relationship between a health care provider
and client. Psychotherapy, or therapy for short, also takes place over a series of meetings, though often it
has a longer duration than counseling. )ome people participate in therapy off and on over several years.
'nstead of narrowing in on individual problems, psychotherapy considers overall patterns, chronic
issues, and recurrent feelings. #his requires an openness to exploring the past and its impact on the
present. #he aim of psychotherapy is to resolve the underlying issues which fuel ongoing complaints.
Psychotherapists help to resolve past experiences as part of laying the foundation for a satisfying future.
(any psychotherapists are open to and interested in wisdom from a variety of sources the body,
the unconscious, and the inner child, to name a few possibilities. #herapists should be comfortable
working with strong feelings, traumatic memories, and the therapeutic relationship.
'n actual practice there may be quite a bit of overlap between the two. * therapist may provide
counseling with specific situations and a counselor may function in a psychotherapeutic manner.
8enerally speaking, however, psychotherapy requires more skill than simple counseling. 't is conducted
by professionals trained to practice psychotherapy such as a psychiatrist, a trained counselor, social
worker or psychologist. +hile a psychotherapist is qualified to provide counseling, a counselor may or
may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy.
Attitudes and qualities of a good counsellor
A capable counsellor must possess a number of personal qualities and develop the proper attitudes to make a client feel at ease
and to build rapport so that a client can self-disclose. What are these personal qualities?
/mpathic understanding is the ability to see things from the client"s perspective. +ithout this
quality a counsellor will be unable to comprehend the problems, experiences, thoughts and feelings of
another person, and will not be able to offer clients the level of supportive understanding that they will
#he counsellor"s full attention and empathy encourages a client to relax and trust and encourages
Congruence and !armth
* counsellor should be agreeable and act appropriately to provide the client with a comfortable
foundation for the counselling relationship. 1nly by creating a friendly atmosphere can the counsellor
encourage interaction and disclosure.
(aintain warmth and genuine understanding.
!se appropriate body language such as a non-threatening posture, while maintaining eye contact
and respecting the client"s personal space.
(aintain a reassuring and comforting way of speech 9 the tone of voice, speed of speech and
style of delivery.
Counsellors must at all times show respect for clients and their welfare. #hey must also remain
impartial and non-,udgmental.
* client must feel comfortable, safe and confident that confidentiality will be maintained at all
times and also that the counsellor is committed to helping, encouraging and supporting.
+hilst maintaining a professional focus a counsellor must be able to show a genuine openness.
Positive regard
't is of vital importance in the counselling relationship that the counsellor demonstrates a positive
acceptance of the client and that the client is valued and respected.
* positive, unconditional regard for the wellbeing of a client is the basis from which clients can
explore their thoughts, feelings and experiences, and develop an understanding and acceptance of their
* counsellor must not ,udge in any way. #his may be difficult in some situations, but is the basis
of a counselling relationship built on trust.
*ccepting a client shows the individual that you are there to support them through the counselling
process, regardless of their weaknesses, negativity or unfavourable qualities.
$mportant values
*t all times counsellors must show a commitment to values such as the following
:uman dignity
*lleviating personal distress
*ppreciating the differences in culture
$emaining non-,udgmental
/nsuring the integrity of the client/counsellor relationship
(aintaining client confidentiality and ethical principles.
Personal s%ills
/ach counsellor will bring their own unique abilities, qualities and skills into a counselling
relationship to help ensure that their client feels safe and supported. #hese may include
*ctive listening skills
8ood interpersonal skills
#he ability to question, reflect and challenge attitudes and beliefs
* genuine interest in providing support.
1ther important skills include good planning and motivational skills, problem solving, organisational
ability and re-orientation skills.
Personal %no!ledge
'n addition to counselling qualifications, a counsellor should be armed with sufficient personal
knowledge and understanding of what counselling is all about.
:e/she must also be clear about the role of the counsellor and the problems, issues and
expectations every client will present.
Counsellors must be self-aware, and must be in control of their feelings, thoughts and emotions
whilst working with clients.
Personal development
#hrough his/her own development a counsellor will also pick up additional understanding and
knowledge, which can be used effectively to support a client during the counselling process.
Counselling skills are constantly improved if the counsellor has an interest in self-awareness and
self-development. #his continual process can include a growth in the following
+ork/life balance
Career and personal focus
8oal setting.
)ource *ttitudes and ;ualities of a Counsellor http//