What’s the difference between counselling and therapy?

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia puts it this way: “Although Counselling and Psychotherapy overlap considerably, there are also recognised differences. While 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 adjustments and fostering clients’ wellbeing. Psychotherapy is more concerned with the restructuring of the personality or self and the development of insight.”

As I see it, counselling is more about solving life problems, and therapy is more about solving problems in how we do our lives – personal growth and healing.  I like doing both.

What’s the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?

Most psychologists get a doctorate (Ph.D.) in psychology, learning about personality, development, psychotherapy, assessment, and how all it all ties in with helping people overcome barriers in their lives.  We don’t use medications; we do use various forms of psychotherapy to help with behaviour change, development, and emotional healing.

Psychiatrists get a medical degree, then specialize in psychiatry.  They focus on use of medications to treat emotional conditions and mental disorders.

How long does therapy take?

How long is a piece of string?  How big is a problem? It varies. Sometimes I see people twice,  we solve a problem, and they get on with life.  Mostly (75% of the time) I see people short term, up to 12 sessions, which is often enough to get some really useful work done. Sometimes I work with people for years while we go deep and really untangle the longstanding personal knots and change the deep and limiting stories. Some people do a few sessions every year or two and work on themselves in between.  It takes a whole life to learn how to live it, it seems.

Do I need therapy?

Hard to say. Are you stuck in your life? Have you tried everything you can think of and you’re not snapping out of some painful state? Are you endlessly repeating an old pattern? You don’t know how to change (or begin) an important relationship? Life is “OK”, but don’t know what you are really doing anymore? You have been holding back forever? You are fed up with or don’t understand something important about yourself? Depressed for more than a few weeks? Super anxious? Addicted? In conflict? Empty? Paralyzed? (not physically). Traumatized? Repeatedly stressed out? Chronic pain? You want to grow, or grow up?

If so, consider it.  You may well work it out yourself, but therapy could make the journey a lot quicker.

Can you recommend some self-help books & articles?

For sure. I keep those lists on my blog.