Most of us at some time in our life have encountered difficulties, such as problems in a close relationship, or a recurring pattern of failed relationships which can lead to feelings of depression and isolation. We may have had distressing childhood experiences which can affect us in later life and which we can no longer afford to ignore; or we may be suffering from depression for which there is no obvious reason, or again we may be feeling stuck in some way, trapped in ways of behaving over which we don’t seem to have control.
What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Counselling: Briefly speaking a good counsellor will work with you in a supportive and non-judgemental way, providing a safe ambiance in which you can fully explore your feelings and discuss your current problems. As a result you may be able to see your situation more clearly and make valid decisions for yourself which you can then implement. Such a process can help you to learn more about yourself and offer opportunities for personal growth.
Psychotherapy is more exploratory in the sense that you will be encouraged to access your innermost thoughts, feelings, anxieties and fears of which you may be unaware and which may manifest themselves in the relationship with your therapist, who will help you to work with this. You therefore integrate a part of yourself which before you did not know about. This means that you will inevitably change inwardly.
In both psychodynamic counselling and psychotherapy the relationship with the therapist is very important, so it is essential you find a therapist with whom you feel you will get on.
What does “psychodynamic” mean? “Psycho” means the psyche, which is our inner mental world that counselling and psychotherapy help you to access. “Dynamic” refers to something that moves. As you will see from the above, both counselling and psychotherapy help you to make inner changes which are in effect “movements” of the psyche.
How long does it take? This is not easy to answer. People often stay for a year or more and some people are happy to work for a limited number of sessions. This is something I would discuss with you during the initial consultation mentioned above.