How do I choose a counsellor or psychotherapist?

Once you have satisfied yourself that a therapist has sufficient training and is registered with an appropriate professional body, research shows that an important factor that contributes to a successful outcome is the quality of the therapeutic relationship that develops. Therefore, it is important to trust your own.

What are the different types of therapy?

There are many different theories and approaches, each of which has its own underlying philosophy. A broad categorisation is between humanistic and psychoanalytic approaches. Humanistic/Person centred approaches emphasise the integrity and wholeness of each person, working through an exchange of dialogue based on what a person knows about their self. Psychoanalytic approaches put emphasis on the influence of past experiences, especially in the early years of life, in shaping our day to day ways of being; Typically, a humanistic way of working will be more interactive and conversational than a psychoanalytic way of working which tends to be a more silent style. Increasingly, psychotherapists are drawing on a range of approaches, both humanistic and psychoanalytic, and blending them into an integrative model of psychotherapy that allows for different ways of responding to each person’s individual needs.

What is the difference between psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists?

Psychotherapists provide a ‘talking cure’ to help people to find ways to address their psychological and emotional difficulties. Typically, psychotherapists provide weekly sessions over an extended period. As part of their training, psychotherapists are required to be in therapy themselves – so they have their own personal experience of benefiting from this process. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in treating mental health problems, including severe disorders, and can prescribe medication. Often they only meet their patients for periodic reviews at longer intervals, say once every three or six months. Psychologists have training in administering psychological tests and evaluating the results; some psychologists, called clinical psychologists, have specific training in working with individual patients.

How many sessions will I need? Or, how long will it take?

There is no simple, universal answer to this question because there are many factors that contribute to the duration of a course of therapy. One factor is the goals or outcomes that you define when you start, which might be narrowly or more broadly focused. Another is the choices you make about what you discover as the therapy unfolds and how much attention you wish to give to these new insights. Some people find a short series of six to twelve sessions may be sufficient, while other people find value in continuing for six months, or twelve months, or for a number of years. This is a question to explore in an initial assessment. Ultimately, each person makes their own choice according to their own needs, wishes, and circumstances.