The words ‘counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ are often used interchangeably but they essentially describe a similar ‘talking cure’ process. As the client talks about his or her troubles, the counsellor or psychotherapist listens attentively and explores with the client what has been said, unsaid and experienced.
Counselling tends to take place over a shorter period of time and to have a specific focus, usually on an immediate issue of concern. Psychotherapy works more deeply to explore often intricate issues rooted in the past that remain unresolved which require working through over the long term. For ease, let's simply call the talking cure process ‘therapy’. Your therapist should be able to assess your particular therapeutic need.
As therapy progresses, the client and therapist engage in a trusting, shared relationship which promotes the experience of a non-judgemental, safe and respectful space. In this environment, the client has time to consider what s/he might want to better understand and change. When working collaboratively with a caring, professional therapist in this way, the client is facilitated through the challenges of personal therapy.
The majority of therapeutic disciplines focus in varying degrees on helping clients to make sense of the past, present and future.
If you have experienced troublesome issues in your childhood, you may not appreciate or accept how those experiences might still be pervading your adult life. You may have been struggling to reduce the impact of your past on your everyday life with little sense of whether a life free of their constraints is even possible. Therapy can help you to deeply reflect on the past and to seek a more rewarding life free from its hold.
Systematic difficulties at work with bosses, colleagues or within personal relationships can start to take their toll on your ability to cope with daily life. Similarly, if your distress arises unexpectedly or you experience a sudden, traumatic event, your daily life may become consumed with anxiety, panic and tension. Therapy can support you to work through your difficulties and to transition to feeling less stuck.
If you would like to see your future objectives with greater clarity, recognise patterns of behaviour that may be restricting you and feel empowered to work towards your goals, working through the past and present in a therapeutic context will help you effectively analyse your endeavours in a non-judgemental way.