Counselling or Psychotherapy?
Counselling and psychotherapy are both terms used to describe talking therapy. Talking therapies are psychological treatments where you talk about what is troubling you to a therapist who is trained to listen empathically and respond to you in a helpful way. (Empathically means with empathy -- understanding things from your point of view. Some people also use the word “empathetic” instead of “empathic.”)
How Counselling and Psychotherapy Differ
In the UK counselling training usually takes 2 years.
In the UK psychotherapy training usually takes 4 years.
Counselling is usually short term.
Psychotherapy can be short or longer term, depending on the issues being dealt with, the causes and the duration of the problems, and the desire of the person to confront deeper issues.
Counselling is designed to deal with a specific, current issue.
Psychotherapy helps the person develop an understanding of the links between past experiences and current problems.
Counselling helps the person respond differently to troubling situations, and understand him or herself better.
Psychotherapy helps the person lead a richer, freer life, as well as greater self understanding and improvement in symptoms.
Counsellors are generally not trained to work with the person's emotional responses to the counsellor.
Psychotherapists welcome the person's emotional responses to the psychotherapist. We call these responses 'transference' when they reflect the person's feelings about other significant people in the person's life. This helps the person to consider whether his or her emotional responses to others are realistic.
For more about CBT and psychotherapy please see "Does Psychotherapy Work?"