Counselling and psychotherapy are not curative treatments, in the traditional sense of the word.
Accessing therapies such as these will provide you with skilled, empathetic support in a safe place – to help you know the person that you are, to find greater ease at being that person, and to live your life differently.
What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Counselling is often described as a ‘talking therapy’, the dynamic of two people working together in a trusting way with the one person being provided with an opportunity to talk openly and freely about worries and concerns with a trusted, independent person, who will use a variety of methods to help the other person to understand and see things differently. The idea being that this person can then make some necessary changes in their life – the way in which they live it and/or experience it. Counselling therapy is generally short-term; for example, between six and ten sessions, at routine intervals agreed between therapist and client. Counselling can also be used to work with couples, who, for example, might be experiencing difficulties in their relationship. Couples work is not necessarily limited to two people in an intimate, sexual relationship and could, for example, be a mature parent and child relationship.
Psychotherapy is a type of talking therapy used to treat mental health conditions as well as emotional and psychological difficulties – complementing any prescribed medical treatments. Like counselling therapy, psychotherapy involves talking to a trained therapist, either one-to-one or sometimes in a group. It enables the person seeking help to look deeper into their problems, worries, and behaviours. As such, psychotherapy is usually a more intense and sometimes developmental experience and the duration of the therapy is typically longer-term and can span many months or even years.
Accessing therapy privately – being confident and reassured about the person you are booking to see.
Members of the public are now encouraged to choose a practitioner who is included in a publicly available Register that has been vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) – an independent body, accountable to Parliament. The PSA accredits registers of people working in a variety of health and social care occupations and settings, including those practitioners offering counselling and psychotherapy. The Authority also oversees statutory regulators such as the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council. The Accredited Register Programme was introduced by the Department of Health as part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to ensure that the public are able to choose safe, ethical and competent professionals to help meet their health and social care needs.
People who are typically entitled to the provision of NHS counselling and psychological therapies but are considering alternative options, for example in independent and private practice, are now being guided on the NHS Choices website about the importance of choosing safe, ethical and competent professionals and to check a practitioner’s professional registrations with membership bodies beforehand.
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which I am personally registered with, holds a Register of its practitioners and this (register) is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) under its Accredited Registers Programme. As such, BACP’s Register of Members has been independently verified by the Authority. You will be able to ascertain and view my registration by clicking on the BACP Register directly or via the PSA Accredited Registers page.