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What do Counsellors and Psychotherapist do?

Stress is a part of everyday life.  Without it we would not get out of bed in the morning. But when stress becomes distress and we have run out of ideas or out of listeners maybe we could do with some professional help. 

Distress sometimes has causes we can identify such as death, illness, and poor interpersonal relationships at home or at work. Sometimes the distress results from an accumulation of less obvious causes which remain outside of awareness. We know something is wrong but we cannot name it.   But because we may feel that what is going on for us is not a ‘valid’ stress inducing life event such as a death or other major loss for which grieving is expected and understood, the sufferer remains silent and so the pressure builds up leading to more stress. 

The symptoms of distress can manifest themselves in many ways such as prolonged sadness or anxiety. The person may feel more irritable than is usual for them, their sleep pattern may be disturbed and/or their appetite for food may change to under-eating to over-eating.  There is a consensus among good health care providers that unremitting stress is an important factor in serious illness.

Psychotherapy was originally conceived of as the ‘talking cure’ and at the outset at least is what it is all about.  But psychotherapy does not comprise ‘tea and sympathy’.   The client talks to a therapist and a trusting, empathic and confidential relationship is established.  But it also a process of reflection and introspection and a willingness to make sometimes difficult choices. A properly qualified therapist will have undergone a rigorous training and will be equipped with the knowledge and tools which allows him or her to facilitate the life changes which the client already knows at some level are needed, and supports   him or her in the process.  All decisions are ultimately made by the client in his or her own interest.

The terms Counselling and Psychotherapy are often used interchangeably. Simply put Counselling tends to deal with more immediate issues that may have arisen more recently e.g. bereavement or relationship breakdown. Psychotherapy tends to deal with deeper, more long-term issues that may be rooted in the past e.g. a trauma, or serious mistreatment, where the affects of such are ongoing.  
When contacting a counsellor/psychotherapist for the first time it is recommended that you ask the following questions:

  • Is he or she accredited with a recognised governing organisation e. g. IACP or IAHIP?
  • Does he or she have experience in your area of concern?
•    Does he or she undertake regular supervision?

  • What fees does s/he charge?

For list of qualified Counsellors and Psychotherapists at the Littlejohn Centre please click here go to our therapist section.