“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives”- Anonymous

Defining counselling

According to the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), they say:

“Psychotherapy and Counselling are professional activities that utilise an interpersonal relationship to enable people to develop self understanding and to make changes in their lives.”

They are based on an interpersonal relationship between the client and the counsellor which helps them develop a better understanding about themselves and then solve their problems.

A counsellor is a trained professional that can help solve your personal problems.

Professional counsellors and psychotherapists help individuals explore and resolve issues that are interpersonal, intrapsychic or personal in nature. They do so within the boundaries of a clearly drafted and principled relationship.

Professionals in the field are explicitly contracted and offered in-depth training to use various techniques and therapeutic interventions.

The difference between counselling and psychotherapy

While the role of counselling and psychotherapy may appear intertwined, they differ on various levels. The role of a counsellor is to focus on specific problems, helping you make changes in your life and fostering your wellbeing.

Counsellors specialise in certain areas where their knowledge and methods are required. For example, grief and bereavement counselling, marital counselling or addiction counselling.

Psychotherapy is more concerned with restructuring the personality and helping develop deep insight and bring about more profound change.

Although both psychotherapists and counsellors work with a variety of clients, psychotherapists can work with more serious mental health issues and work with individuals who are seen over a longer period of time.

Professional psychotherapy/ counselling

  • Draw upon a set of psychotherapeutic and psychological theories along with some advanced interpersonal skills which emphasise on the process of facilitation. They are based on ethics about respecting clients and their values, beliefs, their uniqueness and giving them a right to self-determination
  • It requires an in depth training process that will help develop an understanding of human behaviour, therapeutic capacities, ethical and professional boundaries. It is solely because of this explicitly contracted depth of training utilised for a range of therapeutic procedures, that professional counselling can be differentiated from counselling provided by other professionals
  • The socio-political and cultural context in which the patient lives is takes into account. It also considers how these factors affect the presenting issues. This will include an awareness of and assessment of cultural influences such as age, development, disability, religion, ethinicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, indigenous identity, nationality and gender. Professional counsellors and psychotherapists will value these differences and avoid discrimination due to these factors.
  • It may involve work with current issues, an immediate crisis or more long term difficulties. Depending on the nature of the problem, the work may be short term or long term. The work may involve working with a single individual, a couple, a family or a group.
  • It may occur in a variety of organisational settings in both the private and the public sector.
  • The processes of self monitoring, self examination, self awareness, self development, professional development are considered central to effective practice. These practices lead to develop a capacity to utilise oneself in a therapeutic endeavour.

Search Australia Counselling today for a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist near you.