Difference between counselling and psychotherapy

“What’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?   Jo asks.


 “As I trained and practised in France I’m not too sure of the definition now here in this country.   But talking from my own experience, which was back in the 80s, I had some counselling then and the person gave me her counsel, or advice, I expect from her experience, on what she thought I should do. 

“I see that the dictionary says:”  and Jo reads   ‘…trained to give guidance or recommend a course of action on personal, social or psychological problems’.”

“That sounds like what I had. . . .  I don’t really remember”  I finish rather lamely.

 “So what does psychotherapy do, or how does it work?”  Jo asks.

 “Let’s try the dictionary: ‘psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis is the treatment of mental disorder by ….”

 “Sorry, I don’t like that term.”   Jo interrupts.

 “I agree, it seems like a negative judgement.   Why not just order  instead of  dis-order”

 “Let’s try”.    Jo reads  ‘…aims to treat mental order  by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind and bringing unknown fears and conflicts into the conscious mind.’”

 “Mmm, that’s what I try and do.”

 “That’s what I call psychobabble.”

 “Well, yes, it is and that’s what the dictionary says.    I could add something more like: helps to investigate what the unconscious mind is storing from the past.”

“You mean the childhood stuff?”

 “Yes.   Experience that has shaped who we are.”   I add.

“OK but, it’s often a long time ago, you’re talking about what has gone.   I need to get on now.”

“Yes it is.”   I agree.   “And we may not be aware of how much it’s made us who we are.   So part of what I do is asking questions so that someone discovers, or becomes aware of how much and where it is affecting them.”

I continue,   “Now that you are more aware of things from the past you can decide and have a fuller freedom to choose what or where you want to go, and how to react to other people.”

 For now I finish with  “If I was just going to give you my advice, gathered from my experience and training, on how to deal with something – that would be treating you like a child, patronising you, and not empowering you.”

 “So now I can be very grown up and say, because of this and that I’m probably reacting this way”   Jo surmisses.

 “Yes, by understanding more,  you’ve got the choice of reacting the way you want.”

                                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Simplistic, but I’ve probably written enough and won’t go on any longer.   On Friday I’m joining a group to discuss:

How much do we create our own reality?  

Now here’s a subject that has long fascinated me.   I’ll tell you something of our differing views after the meeting.

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