What is counselling

What is counselling

Counselling provides a safe and non judgemental space which allows individuals to work through difficulties they may be experiencing including feelings and situations that are distressing. Counselling can help with all types of issues, for example, anxiety, depression, coping with change, coping with illness and relationship difficulties.

The relationship between client and therapist is viewed as a particularly important one which works within an agreed set of boundaries. Although the therapist is not a “friend” they are able to listen in a supportive, confidential and empathic manner and are not emotionally involved in the same way as family and friends. This can be beneficial in helping to explore difficulties and solutions in a more neutral and objective way. Of course, for some people, talking with family or friends may not be an option so having counselling support can be invaluable.

Our online service uses Skype (face to face),VOIP, face time, phone or email therapy sessions that are organised and take place at an agreed time between you and your therapist. The online service has been specifically developed to widen access to counselling. Our experience shows that many clients prefer to have their sessions online as this ensures privacy and anonymity and is more manageable within the context of a modern lifestyle.

Counselling support can be helpful with:-

• New diagnosis and long term illness
• Anxiety and Panic
• Depression and stress
• Relationship difficulties
• Coping as a carer
• Work difficulties
• Bereavement and Loss
• Domestic Violence
• Abuse
• Trauma
• Loneliness and Isolation
• Coping with change
• Anger
• Self harm

• Sexuality and identity

This list is not exhaustive and often difficulties can be interlinked. If you are experiencing problems with your boss at work then it may involve levels of anxiety, anger or stress. Coping with significant illness such as a new diagnosis may likely involve deep feelings loneliness and isolation, coping and dealing with change, depression and anxiety. The therapist is there to help explore the difficulty in question but also to help explore other relating factors that might be important.

Counselling Approaches

There are various counselling approaches each with their own merit and focus . Below we have outlined briefly what are considered to be the main therapeutic approaches.

Person Centred Therapy

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. (Counselling Directory.org.uk)

Psychodynamic Therapy

The psychodynamic counselling has direct links with Freudian ideas such as the concept of the unconscious, the use of dreams and the concepts of transference and countertransference. The word psychodynamic derives from the Greek word “psyche” which relates to therapy (combination of the mind, spirit and soul) and the word “dynamic” which relates to the interactions of these three parts both internally and externally.

Freud was fascinated by the hidden processes of the human mind and refers to the processes such as ID, ego and superego. ID = This is the unconscious part of the mind that contains instinctual drives and impulses that motivate our behaviour. The ID can be thought of as the child part of the unconscious. The Ego = This is the rationale part of the mind which makes decisions and interacts with the external world. The ego can be related to the more grown up side of the mind, it takes care of us and telling us we are doing fine. The Superego = This part is the conscientious side of the mind and contains parental and societal rules and taboos.

Nowadays, the relationship between the client and the therapist is a crucial aspect of the counselling process and this concept is embraced by nearly every school of counselling. The counselling relationship needs to be more than a good working relationship and it requires particular qualities in the counsellor if the right conditions are present in which the client can change psychologically.

What might make a differences between the psychodynamic and other counselling approaches is the use of transference and countertransference feelings.

Transference = To some extent transference happens in all relationships. All of us transfer unresolved ways of relating to other people around us, especially those who we are in close relationships with. If a person had a domineering father then as adults they might view people in authority as having these characteristics and they might regress to a way of relating to them that resemble the childhood relationships with their fathers, which might include resentment, anxiety and anger. In the counselling setting transference can bring old conflict alive and these can be worked out with the assistance of the counsellor. The transference offers the client the opportunity to experience a different response to the original cause of conflict.

Countertransference = This can be understood as the feelings and attitudes that the counsellor has in relation to the client. As for the example above the countertransference response will be if the counsellor began to feel omnipotent or critical towards the client. Countertransference can be a powerful tool as it provides the counsellor with an insight into the problem of the client that perhaps would go unrecognised.

Finally a central aim of the psychodynamic approach is to help the client to become more aware and to bring unconscious feelings into consciousness. The counsellor’s role is to help clients to gain understanding and insights into aspects of the self previously unknown. This is achieved by bringing unconscious processes, resistances, defences, conflicts and feelings to the surface. (Counselling Directory.org.uk)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. Cognitive emotional behavioral therapy (CEBT) is a form of CBT developed initially for individuals with eating disorders but now used with a range of problems including anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anger problems. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the term used for a group of psychological treatments that are based on scientific evidence. … CBT is different from many other therapy approaches by focusing on the ways that a person’s cognitions (i.e., thoughts), emotions, and behaviors are connected and affect one another.

Transactional Analysis

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. Transactional analysis is a talking therapy and sessions are designed to explore an individual’s personality and how this has been shaped by experience – particularly those stemming from childhood. This is achieved through skilful questioning and the utilisation of various models, techniques and tools. Sessions can be carried out in the form of one-on-one counselling, or with families, couples or groups.

The atmosphere that supports transactional analysis is non-judgemental, secure and respectful, ensuring that a positive relationship is forged between the therapist and client(s) in order to provide a model for subsequent relationships and communication that are developed outside of therapy. In this setting the therapist works collaboratively with the individual to identify what has gone wrong in their communication and provide opportunities for them to change repetitive patterns that limit their potential. TA therapists recognise that we all have the potential to live the life we want, rather than the life we are programmed to live. Sometimes however this potential is hindered by repetitive patterns or ‘unconscious scripts’ that stem from childhood decisions and teachings.

Solution Focused

Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) places focus on a person’s present and future circumstances and goals rather than past experiences. In this goal-oriented therapy, the symptoms or issues bringing a person to therapy are typically not targeted. Instead, a qualified therapist encourages those in treatment to develop a vision of the future and offers support as they determine the skills, resources, and abilities needed to achieve that vision successfully.

SFBT, which aims to help people experiencing difficulty find tools they can use immediately to manage symptoms and cope with challenges, is grounded in the belief that although individuals may already have the skills to create change in their lives, they often need help identifying and developing those skills. Similarly, SFBT recognizes that people already know, on some level, what change is needed in their lives, and SFBT practitioners work to help the people in their care clarify their goals. Practitioners of SFBT encourage individuals to imagine the future they desire and then work to collaboratively develop a series of steps that will help them achieve those goals. In particular, therapists can help those in treatment identify a time in life when a current issue was either less detrimental or more manageable and evaluate what factors were different or what solutions may have been present in the past.

This form of therapy involves first developing a vision of one’s future and then determining how internal abilities can be enhanced in order to attain the desired outcome. Therapists who practice SFBT attempt to guide people in therapy through the process of recognizing what is working for them, help them explore how best to continue practicing those strategies, and encourage them to acknowledge and celebrate success. In addition, practitioners of SFBT support people in therapy as they experiment with new problem-solving approaches. (Good Therapy.org)