The Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Ok, I decided to write this blog simply because a lot of people ask me what’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy and in fact there’s not a right or wrong answer here. The two major regulating bodies which is the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have debated this for a long time. So really this is more of my views, collections of other people’s views but really my views on the subject. I mean, in the course of going for licensing for psychotherapist and counselling which we never actually got, there are six or seven years, the BACP did come out with at least one difference between psychotherapy and counselling and their different was this that the UKCP and the BACP agreed on was this, that in a counselling trainings there is one major difference between the psychotherapy training and counselling training and that is that counsellors are not trained to deal with or assess personality disorders, where psychotherapists are trained on how to work with personality disorders, people who are more disturbed and how to also assess them as well, whereas counsellors aren’t. So that’s interesting but of course I think there’s many other differences.
I’ve run the assessment referral system for the last sort of twelve years when they first introduced psychotherapy and people always ask me this question – what’s the difference between psychotherapy and counselling? The only major sort of themes which come out, especially from the public is that they see counselling as much more short term, they see psychotherapy as longer. They go to GPs for example, you probably only get six to eight sessions of counselling, whereas if you sign up for psychotherapy, usually privately of course, it can go on for one or two years, but of course you do have short-term psychotherapy as well. I mean the other differences that’s come up is that counselling often is cheaper other than psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can go from any prices from £40, £50, £60 an hour and above where counselling is less expensive than that. So that’s two themes that have come out. Another one is that people tend to think of psychotherapy as more scientific than counselling which is an interesting one. I think that comes from Freud’s early psychoanalysis, the idea of the human personality being more mechanical or having a scientific basis to it. In the theme or differences if you like of psychotherapy which comes out a lot and I think it’s more a myth than reality but anyway, that counselling is more in the here and now and psychotherapy is more to do with making connections from the past to the present. Now on one level this is true but on another level we’ve seen the birth of therapeutic counselling in the UKCP and the BACP where we have a therapeutic part of the counselling procedure where many, many counsellors work in connection with the past to the present so I don’t think it’s as clear cut as saying that the counselling world deals with the present and the psychotherapy world deals with the past. I think there’s far more overlaps here, far more emerging in present time and past time.
It’s an interesting one. I think it is the public’s major idea of how they see the difference between psychotherapy and counselling. So there we are, we’ve got the fact it’s seen to be that counselling seems to be more cheaper, psychotherapy more expensive, the counselling is shorter in duration to psychotherapy, that psychotherapy is dealing with the past connections to the present and counselling is in short term and that sometimes, well, one theme that did come out of this is that the public see counselling as much more in general terms and that psychotherapy is more scientific. Other differences seem to range, well they all seem to go on these themes really.
Ok, so those are the major themes I see emerging over and over again.