What is counselling?

Counselling and psychotherapy consist of a range of talking therapies delivered by trained professionals. Counselling is usually shorter term work that focuses on one particular problem or difficulty. Psychotherapy tends to be a longer process requiring more in-depth work exploring both past and present experiences. Counsellors/psychotherapists can help people explore and identify their difficulties, increase self-awareness,   bring about effective change and enhance well-being.

Therapy provides a safe, confidential place where client and counsellor work together. Research has consistently shown that the efficacy of therapy depends more upon the quality of the therapeutic relationship than upon the theoretical model used by the therapist.  As part of the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist, therapists have a commitment to understanding the client from his or her frame of reference. Within this safe relationship, clients can explore  personal difficulties and, through the development of a deeper understanding of themselves, move towards change. As the client learns to trust the therapist, so he/she will begin to entrust the therapist with his/her true feelings and thoughts. Meaningful contact between client and therapist occurs. The therapy room becomes a space in which old beliefs are challenged and fresh ideas emerge.

In addition, the therapeutic relationship can be used by the client as a model for relationship-building outside the therapy room in the real world. Successful counselling has relationship-building at its heart: the client-therapist relationship, the client’s relationships with others and also, the client’s relationship with him/herself.

One size does not fit all when it comes to psychotherapy. Different patients with different needs require different approaches at different times. An integrative approach draws on different schools of thought and ways of working to produce the most effective therapy for each individual client. The terms “integrative psychotherapy” and “integrative counselling” describe multi-modal approaches combining therapies. Integrative Psychotherapists and Counsellors are trained in several different therapeutic approaches and will combine those techniques and schools of practice depending on the needs of the client. They blend several different theories, drawing on elements of each to best help and support their clients.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy – www.bacp.co.uk

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap people in a vicious cycle.

CBT aims to help with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.  Clients are shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way they feel.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with current problems, rather than focusing on issues from the past. It looks for practical ways to improve state of mind on a daily basis.

NHS Choices – www.nhs.uk


Person – Centred Psychotherapy/Counselling

Person-centred therapy focuses on an individual’s self-worth and values. Being valued as a person, without being judged, can help an individual to accept who they are, and reconnect with themselves.This approach encourages clients to explore their feelings and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Past and present events may be considered and resolved. Client creativity may be explored to improve creative expression or performance, or as an aid to well-being.

The British Association for the Person-Centred Approach – www.bapca.org.uk

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is based on the concept that individuals know their own minds best and also have the necessary resources to change and achieve their desired outcome. It focuses on what the client is already doing that works. It sets clear goals and helps the client decide how to achieve them.

Institute for Solution –Focused Therapy  – www.solutionfocused.net


Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice which is relevant for life today and is a very simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality.

Mindfulness is noticing thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells – anything we might not normally discern. The actual skills might be simple, but because it is so different to how our minds normally behave, it takes a lot of practice. Normally our minds are busy in the future or in the past – thinking about what we need to do, or going over what we have done.

By practising mindfulness we can take more control over our focus of attention, and choose what we focus on…rather than passively allowing our attention to be dominated by that which distresses us and takes us away from the present moment.

NHS Choices – www.nhs.uk