What is Counselling & Psychotherapy?
Counselling and psychotherapy.
‘Counselling and psychotherapy are terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their well-being.
Why people choose to have therapy
People choose to have therapy because they are experiencing difficulties and distress in their lives. Sometimes people can be isolated but at other times, even where an individual has the most supportive family and friends, they can find it difficult if not impossible to explain why, for example, they may be feeling anxious and or depressed. Or it may be easier to talk about personal, family, or relationship issues with a person who is independent of friends and family. Other life issues and events which can be very difficult to deal with include bereavement, divorce, redundancy, health issues, bullying and so on. However, you do not have to be in crisis or on the verge of one, before choosing to have therapy. You may be experiencing underlying feelings of dissatisfaction with life in general, or be seeking balance in your life and spirituality. All of these reasons and more will bring individuals to therapy.
What is therapy?
Talking about life events, past and present, feelings, emotions, relationships, ways of thinking and behaviour. The therapist will do their best to help you to look at your issues, and to identify the right course of action for you, either to help you resolve your difficulties or help you find ways of coping. Talking about these things may take time. It is best to ask about this in advance, for example, brief therapy or short term therapy might provide a maximum of 6, 8, 10 or 12 sessions.
Therapeutic models in brief
Therapy may involve specific techniques or approaches which you might read about in your GP surgery and/or on the internet. This means therapists have had different training and have different ways of working with clients, for example Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), brief therapy, drama therapy, person centred therapy, psychodynamic therapy, trauma therapy. In addition, some therapists may have specific approaches for working with people with eating disorders, addictions, issues of sexuality, etc. It can be helpful to have a general understanding of the approaches offered by your therapist, to enable you to think about what approach would possibly work well for you. Though therapists may train specifically in one model of therapy, many incorporate different techniques from other models if they feel it will be helpful for their client. For example, some may use art materials in individual or couples therapy, with agreement from the client(s). Therapists usually work for a mutually agreed set period of time for each session. The length of sessions may vary depending on the therapist training, how the therapy is delivered and also whether it is a specialist treatment. Therapists and clients need to keep sessions to a reasonable length of time, to ensure that they both can maintain their energy and focus and get the most out of the session. In one to one therapy, a session may be time limited usually 50 minutes to an hour per session. However, a specialist therapy, for example trauma treatment, may involve longer sessions. In the initial meeting with your therapist, you may find it useful to discuss the way they work, i.e. their approach or preferred modality.
Confidentiality is essential in a therapy relationship as part of building trust. However, confidentiality is not absolute, and there are exceptions. Sometimes, in the public interest, counsellors may need to make a referral to an agency or organisation (for example GP, police or social services) when there is a serious risk of imminent harm to their clients or to others, for example where a client is seriously mentally ill and needs hospitalisation, or in cases of child or elder abuse. These referrals are usually (but not always) made with the clients knowledge and consent. This decision will depend on the particular circumstances of each client. There may be times when a therapist is required by law to break confidentiality, for example, about terrorist activities. You may wish to ask the counsellor to contact your GP and/ or other agency, in which case you would agree and confirm the issues to be discussed between the counsellor and other named party, and this would not be a breach of confidentiality. In some organisational settings, such as GP practices, schools, universities and some therapeutic agencies, your information may need to be shared with the organisation in order to best help you. However, after discussion with your therapist, you should be clear about what information may need to be shared and with whom it may be shared.