What is Counselling?

The main differences between psychotherapy and counselling

Counselling, when discussed in relation to psychotherapy, is a process of counsellor working with a client and helping them enhance their life and general wellbeing using psychotherapeutic methods. It, however, will focus predominantly on the immediate and current challenges a person is experiencing in a certain life situation.

In general it differs from psychotherapy in the way that it will usually not go into deep, archaic material a person might carry from their early childhood. It will also not deal with situations such as trauma or disorders.

During sessions, a counsellor will focus more on the immediate problem solving with the client and will help the client challenge some of the less deep-seated beliefs they have of themselves, others and the world. Such that pose less prevalent, but still visible, difficulties in their lives and relationships.

Counselling will often take a form of shorter-term and more ad hoc treatment, whereas psychotherapy will often take place in long-term format and in regular periodic sessions. However, this should not be considered a rule.

Contrary to beliefs of some, counselling will not be more likely to offer “tools” to clients. Often times clients will see a counsellor, or even a psychotherapist, expecting to receive “tools” they can use to mend whatever life situation they found themselves in. This expectation comes from a misconception of both counselling, as well as therapy.

Counselling will often focus on relationship difficulties and person’s problems in life that are a result of a particular life situation. It will not go into considerable adjustments of frame of reference and into healing potentially pathological issues. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, will address the latter also.

When assessing whether to engage in therapy or counselling it is best to consider the issue one would like to address and the circumstances in which the problem arose, if the latter is apparent.