Psychotherapy & Counselling. FAQ
Why Consult a Psychotherapist or Counsellor?
Just as we sometimes experience physical problems and need to see a physician, there are times when we feel psychologically or emotionally under the weather and need specialist help.
Psychological and emotional problems are painful, distressing and lonely experiences. We may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sensitive and vulnerable; and sometimes at the end of our tether. The skills of a specialist are not limited to psychological expertise but includes compassion, empathy and professionalism born from personal experience. Psychotherapy helps us understand our mind, emotions and also our body in a Holistic approach to healing.
It may be that our problems are historical and persistent, and at other times they arise from current circumstances. If difficulties arise and we cannot find a way to resolve them, or if we become stuck in habits that undermine our health, relationships or functioning then we are wise to seek professional help.
Working through psychological and emotional difficulties and learning to cope with our problems is the work of psychotherapy. We learn to improve the management of our thoughts and emotions as we heal our wounds and address the challenges we inevitably face in life.
What Kind of Problems does Psychotherapy Deal With?
- Our problems may include the affects of negative stress, intrusive painful thoughts, social and relationship difficulties, attachment and bonding problems, trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety, bereavement, addiction, low self-esteem, neglect and abuse, obsessive-compulsive and personality disorders.
- Sudden shocks can destabilise us and lead to crisis. Maybe our performance at work is being compromised, or issues arising from stress are affecting our relationships and social life. We may feel confused and distressed without knowing quite what is troubling us. This may be so at midlife and other naturally significant times of great change and transition, when we begin to think and feel in ways that can surprise or alarm us.
- Loss and grief are among our most painful experiences. Sometimes we become stuck and unable to pass through the numerous phases that help us come to terms with loss. At such times professional help supports us in the lonely and often devastating consequences of grief.
- Sometimes, problems of identity arise as spiritual experiences, as epiphanies or visions that can bring our lives into a new focus. Examining our lives in response to powerful insights is an opportunity for creative and transformative life changes.
Psychotherapy engages three processes:
• Exploring and clarifying presenting problems
• Developing a treatment plan
• Help and support throughout the duration of the treatment plan, until healthier functioning is achieved.
Psychotherapy and counselling require us to talk about our problems. But, that is not always easy. Often we don’t know quite what we are feeling. Confusion, feeling like we are in a fog, makes it very difficult to understand what is happening to us. So, the first task of psychotherapy is learning to understand and describe our problems, how they arise and from where they originate. Based upon the outcome of a period of exploration, a treatment program is developed that delivers skills to address problems. Breaking self-defeating habits and acquiring new ways of coping more healthily is the goal.
Regular attendance to sessions essential: undergoing a treatment plan requires making a commitment to both yourself and the psychotherapist.
I can do it alone. Why do I need help?
The psychotherapist Herbert Mowrer said, in speaking of significant psychological and emotional change processes:
“Alone you must do it, but you cannot do it alone”
A paradoxical statement but universally true. We consult a psychotherapist for the treatment of psychological and emotional problems when we can go no further in trying to deal with our issues alone.
How Can Psychotherapy and Counselling Benefit My Life?
Our lives naturally bring challenges, which when understood and skilfully integrated help us learn and grow. Sometimes, though, our struggles can be overwhelming and we become stuck in negative cycles and we cannot move on. At these times the everyday psychological and emotional struggles we may have always dealt with redouble and become destructive.
Whether the glass is half full or half empty depends upon our perspective. Learning skills to transform negative experiences into positive are invaluable throughout our lives. We cannot undo what has been done; but we can learn to reframe experience and avoid repeating problems.
What is the difference Between Psychotherapy and Counselling?
The essential difference between psychotherapy and counselling is the length of their treatment programs. Counselling is usually no longer than twelve sessions, and is restricted to brief interventions and short-term support. Psychotherapy is a more in-depth process that focuses on change processes, providing more time to explore and treat personal issues in a stable psychotherapeutic alliance.
The qualitative difference between psychotherapy and counselling is in the depth and quality of the therapeutic alliance. The relationship between psychotherapist and client forms the foundation of the process, which takes time to create. Counselling tends to be task oriented in which the process serves brief interventions.
Problems that are persistent or chronic may have deep roots. The process of accurate diagnosis always precedes treatment plan options, which requires an adequate amount of time. During the first six sessions it usually becomes clear whether psychotherapy or counselling is the appropriate course of action.
Can Psychotherapy Help Me Adapt to Change?
Consistent with an evolutionary view of life, psychotherapy and counselling can help us adapt to our environment and changing conditions. Nowadays we face rapid changes in all quarters of our lives, creating new and sometimes radical challenges. Psychotherapy provides programs for personal development to support change and adaptation in our fast changing world.
Challenges may come naturally or through traumas, physical health issues, shocks or the sudden development of disruptions to our working lives. Adapting to sudden change is not always easy, although our survival, health and happiness may depend upon it.
What Kind of Psychotherapy Do I Offer?
I employ a range of treatment models, which align with evidence based data and affective neuroscience. I draw from an eclectic range of techniques, which combine Psychodynamics, Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologies. Both Cognitive-Behavioural and Cognitive-Analytic tools also have a place in my work.
I have a special interest in the psychoemotional benefits of meditation, often referred to as Mindfulness. I have taught meditation in the Zen tradition for twenty-five years; and I run specialist courses on the phenomenology of Buddhist psychology. Transpersonal and Psychospiritual theory, particularly the work of Jung and Archetypal psychology, have a central place in my life and work.
You can read more about my theoretical orientation in the links above.