What Does a Counsellor Do?
Counsellors help people to explore feelings and emotions that are often related to their experiences. This allows clients to reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things.
Counsellors work in a confidential setting and listen attentively to their clients. They offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective.
The aim is reduce a client’s confusion and enable them to cope with challenges, or to make positive changes in their life where necessary.
Counsellors do not give advice, but help clients to make their own choices within the framework of an agreed counselling contract.
There is no clear distinction between the terms counselling and psychotherapy, and both can encompass a range of talking therapies.
Counselling and psychotherapy
‘Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their wellbeing.’
Why people choose to have therapy
Usually individuals choose to have therapy because they are experiencing difficulties and distress in their lives. Sometimes people can be isolated but at other times, even where an individual has the most supportive family and friends, they can find it difficult if not impossible to explain why, for example, they may be feeling anxious and or depressed. Or it may be easier to talk about personal, family, or relationship issues with a person who is independent of friends and family. Other life issues and events which can be very difficult to deal with include bereavement, divorce, redundancy, health issues, bullying and so on. However, you do not have to be in crisis or on the verge of one, before choosing to have therapy.
You may be experiencing underlying feelings of dissatisfaction with life in general, or be seeking balance in your life and spirituality. All of these reasons and more will bring individuals to therapy
What is therapy?
Therapy is time set aside by you and the therapist to look at what has brought you to therapy. This might include talking about life events, (past and present), feelings, emotions, relationships, ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour. The therapist will do their best to help you to look at your issues, and to identify the right course of action for you, either to help you resolve your difficulties or help you find ways of coping. Talking about these things may take time, and will not necessarily all be included in one session. The number of sessions offered may be limited, and so it is best to ask about this in advance, for example, brief therapy or short term therapy might provide a maximum of 6, 8, 10 or 12 sessions.
Types of Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a talking therapy that looks to help you manage problems by enabling you to recognise, and ultimately change, the way you think and behave. Combining a cognitive approach with a behavioural approach, CBT encourages you to notice how your thoughts and actions influence one another.
The therapy aims to break overwhelming problems down into smaller parts to make them easier to cope with. During the treatment you and your therapist will focus on the here and now, while noting how past events shaped your thinking/behaviours.
Cognitive behavioural therapy has become one of the most popular forms of talk therapy and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Keep reading for more information about this integrative method and whether or not it could help you.
Gestalt therapy refers to a form of psychotherapy that derives from the gestalt school of thought. It was developed in the late 1940s by Fritz Perls and is guided by the relational theory principle that every individual is a whole (mind, body and soul), and that they are best understood in relation to their current situation as he or she experiences it.
The approach combines this relational theory with present state – focusing strongly on self-awareness and the ‘here and now’ (what is happening from one moment to the next). In gestalt therapy, self-awareness is key to personal growth and developing full potential. The approach recognises that sometimes this self-awareness can become blocked by negative thought patterns and behaviour that can leave people feeling dissatisfied and unhappy.
It is the aim of a gestalt therapist to promote a non-judgemental self-awareness that enables clients to develop a unique perspective on life. By helping an individual to become more aware of how they think, feel and act in the present moment, gestalt therapy provides insight into ways in which he or she can alleviate their current issues and distress in order to aspire to their maximum potential.
Person-centred therapy – also known as person-centred counselling or client-centred counselling – is a humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas.
Created in the 1950s by American psychologist, Carl Rogers, the person-centred approach ultimately sees human beings as having an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. However, this ability can become blocked or distorted by our life experiences – particularly those that affect our sense of value.
The counsellor or psychotherapist in this approach works to understand an individual’s experience from their point of view. The counsellor must positively value the client as a person in all aspects of their humanity, while aiming to be open and genuine. This is vital to helping an individual feel accepted and better understand their own feelings – essentially helping them to reconnect with their inner values and sense of self-worth. This reconnection with their inner resources enables them to find their own way to move forward.
Transactional analysis (TA) is a widely recognised form of modern psychology that involves a set of practical conceptual tools designed to promote personal growth and change. It is considered a fundamental therapy for well-being and for helping individuals to reach their full potential in all aspects of life.
In counselling TA therapy is very versatile, for it can be used in a wide range of areas and incorporates key themes from humanistic, integrative, psychoanalytical, psychodynamic therapies. Though it is commonly recognised as a brief and solution-focused approach, transactional analysis can also be applied as an effective long-term, in-depth therapy .
Founded by Eric Berne in the late 1950s, TA therapy is based on the theory that each person has three ego states: parent, adult and child. These are used along with other key transactional analysis concepts, tools and models to analyse how individuals communicate and identify what interaction is needed for a better outcome.
Throughout therapy, the TA therapist will work directly on here and now problem solving behaviours, whilst helping clients to develop day-to-day tools for finding constructive creative solutions. The ultimate goal is to ensure clients regain absolute autonomy over their lives. Eric Berne defines this autonomy as the recovery of three vital human capacities – spontaneity, awareness and intimacy.
As humans, we have a tendency to work on autopilot a lot of the time – completing tasks automatically without really giving them any thought. Consider your drive to work in the morning – are you thinking about changing gears and steering, or are you mentally planning the day ahead? Have you ever eaten a snack while working/watching TV only to later find yourself with an empty packet and no memory of having eaten anything? These are both perfect examples of mindlessness – something many of us can relate to.
Mindfulness aims to reconnect us with ourselves to alleviate stress. It also helps us to feel more attuned with our emotions and generally more aware of ourselves both mentally and physically.
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Please contact me using the details on my contact page if you have any enquiries, want to book an appointment or to find out if the Hypnotherapy and Counselling I use can be of help to you.