What exactly is counseling | psychotherapy?

Have you ever wondered what exactly is #counseling or #psychotherapy?

Traditionally, #counseling has been viewed as giving advice and dealing with less serious problems such as choosing a career or dealing with stressful in-laws. #Counseling was thought of as helping people to address problems in the here and now and was short term in length i.e. several months. #Counseling was also seen as something that “crazy’ people went to in order to help them be less “crazy”. For example the family that had their children removed, went to #counseling to get their children back. Or the guy that talked to himself went to #counseling to learn how to apply for a job and keep a job.

#Psychotherapy on the other hand has been traditionally viewed as someone going to see a #psychiatrist, #psychologist or #psychoanalyst to better understand themselves. The problems included things such as why you hate your parents, depression, sexual abuse or why you keep picking the wrong person to date. #Psychotherapy was seen as treating more serious issues and something that only rich bored people did that lasted several years. Think Woody Allen movies.

Fortunately, most of the traditional thinking about #counseling and #psychotherapy has fallen by the wayside among medical and mental health professionals and by a good deal of the general public. Today #counseling, #psychotherapy and the word #therapy are used interchangeably by the general public and many professionals. However, the word #psychotherapy can still carry the weight of “seriousness”, more “prestige” and that it is longer term versus “the less serious” and less “prestigious” and shorter term counseling. For example, is some government programs aimed at help clients with social and emotional problems, a client can only be referred for #counseling but not #psychotherapy.

Whether you call it #counseling or #psychotherapy, it is an introspective process. This means that you must be willing to look at and explore your own life, your thoughts, your emotions, your feelings and your interactions with others. This can often be an emotionally frightening process and many people drop out of #counseling because they find this process too hard.

Both #counseling and #psychotherapy requires at least weekly sessions during which the clients talks and expresses to their #counselor or #psychotherapist their concerns or issues that are bothering them. The #counselor or #psychotherapist helps the client to think through issues, become aware of how and what things impact the client and helps the client to develop alternative healthier ways of managing and coping.

Most #counseling or #psychotherapy training programs do not make a distinction between #counseling and #psychotherapy. Training is provided in a variety of #counseling and #psychotherapy methods and both words continue to be used interchangeably. The one exception to this is #psychoanalysis which maintains it’s position as a particular type of #psychotherapy and requires a particular type of training usually an additional 3 to 5 years after initial masters’ level or doctoral level #counseling or #psychotherapy training.

The decision to see a #counselor or #psychotherapist is a huge and brave decision. However, with the ever presence of pop psychology, the ability to google anything and talk show hosts asking questions and “acting like therapists” many people have developed an inaccurate view and misinformation about #counseling and #psychotherapy. First, there are many different types and styles of #counseling and #psychotherapy. Second, despite tons of information and research about effective types and styles of #counseling or #psychotherapy the one thing that leads to a successful #counseling or # psychotherapy experience more than any other variable is the relationship you have with your #counselor or #psychotherapist. If you like your #therapist and s/he has a reasonable sense of what s/he is doing, you are likely to improve and get better compared to if you went to see the foremost #counseling or #psychotherapy expert in a particular area but didn’t like him or her.

All in all, #counseling or #psychotherapy is beneficial for most who truly try it. One or two sessions is not trying it. While no #counselor or #psychotherapist can guarantee results the process is often quite beneficial leading to results such as higher self esteem, improved coping skills, healthier relationships, decreased anxiety and decreased depression, recovery from eating disorders, recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and improved overall life satisfaction.

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