About Counselling & Psychotherapy
The terms “counselling” and “psychotherapy” are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight distinction.
Counselling generally refers to short-term consultation while psychotherapy typically refers to longer-term treatment. Counselling typically deals with present issues that are easily resolved on the conscious level whereas psychotherapy intensively and extensively examines a person’s psychological history. Counselling normally helps a client process powerful emotions such as grief or anger, deal with immediate causes of stress and anxiety, clarify values and identify options when making important personal or professional decisions, manage conflicts within relationships, develop better interpersonal and communication skills, or intentionally change unproductive thoughts and behaviours.
Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is an evolutionary process that helps a person look at long-standing attitudes, thoughts, and behaviours that have resulted in the current quality of one’s life and relationships. It goes much deeper to uncover root causes of problems, resulting in more dramatic changes in perspective regarding oneself, one’s life experience, and the world in general. Ultimately, psychotherapy aims to empower the individual by freeing him/her from the grip of unconscious triggers or impulses through increased self-awareness.
In other words, counselling is more concerned with practical or immediate issues and outcomes while psychotherapy is more focused on helping a person understand his/her life in a profound and reflective manner.
Qualified Counsellors and Psychotherapists should be registered on the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ARCAP) and be a member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) or the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), both of which require their members to undergo evidence-based professional training, continuing professional development and adherence to a Code of Conduct. Many mental health professionals are trained and skilled in practicing either counselling or psychotherapy, even integrating them when necessary. At times, straightforward counselling for symptoms such as indecisiveness or procrastination may reveal a damaging pattern of thought and behaviour that may require in-depth psychotherapy, provided the client is ready to address the deeper issues. In both forms of treatment, what remains essential is the relationship built on mutual respect, trust, support, and deep honesty.