What Is Psychotherapy


What is Psychotherapy ~ Therapy or Counselling?

‘Psychotherapy’ and ‘Counselling’ are terms that are often used interchangeably. Some practitioners may choose to use both terms when referring to themselves. Although they are very similar (both practices share the goal of relieving psychological symptoms and enabling individuals to live more fulfilled lives), there are some subtle differences.

‘Counselling’ is generally used to denote a briefer process than psychotherapy and is mostly focused upon behaviour patterns and often targets a particular symptom or problematic situation.

‘Psychotherapy’ is generally a longer term treatment which focuses more on gaining insight into the underlying causes of emotional problems. Its focus is on the patient’s thought processes and ways of being in the world rather than specific problems.

Generally speaking, psychotherapy requires more skill from the practitioner that counselling. Psychotherapy training requires a longer, more rigorous academic and clinical focus than counselling training. Whilst a psychotherapist is qualified to provide counselling, a counsellor may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy.

In actual practice there may be quite a bit of overlap between psychotherapy and counselling

A therapist may provide counselling with specific situations and a counsellor may function in a psychotherapeutic manner. At The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in Harley Street, London, the therapists hold both psychotherapy and counselling qualifications and have many years clinical experience in both NHS and private settings. The therapy is tailored to the need.

What is Psychotherapy ~ The Therapeutic Structure

Psychotherapy works (as does counselling), in part, because it offers the individual a safe, confidential environment from which to explore difficult feelings. The therapeutic structure, or ‘frame’ is made up of a few components that help the individual feel safe and able to explore difficult issues.

The components that make up the psychotherapeutic structure are

  • Your therapist – who remains with you throughout your journey in psychotherapy and counselling
  • A time frame – each psychotherapy or counselling session is 50 minutes in length.
  • The psychotherapy or counselling sessions are weekly – ideally at the same time and on the same day each week.
  • The room you will be seen in – you will be seen in the same room for psychotherapy/counselling each week.
  • The structure of the psychotherapy/counselling will help you feel at ease, build trust with your therapist and give you a safe place to explore your difficult thoughts and feelings.

At the Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in Harley Street, Central London, we offer our clients professional psychotherapy and counselling and respect our client’s needs

How Can Psychotherapy and Counselling Help?

  • Psychotherapy and counselling can help you gain understanding of overwhelming feelings or unwanted behaviours. In gaining an understanding of feelings and behaviours, psychotherapy can help you gain control of these difficulties.
  • It can help in decreasing your stress levels. By sharing thoughts, fears and anxieties with an experienced, professional psychotherapist you will gain relief, clarity, reduced stress and be able to find a healthier way forward.
  • It can help you build healthier relationships. Through the examination of relationship problems in psychotherapy and counselling, you will gain a better understanding of how your relationships work. In examining repeated patterns in relationships, expectations of others and of yourself for example, psychotherapy and counselling will help you discover how the difficulties arise and help you move forward into healthier patterns of relating.
  • It can help build your self esteem and confidence. By sharing your difficult feelings with a psychotherapist/counsellor you will be listened to and understood. From this understanding, your psychotherapist will help you build your self value, encouraging you to see yourself and value yourself in different, and more healthy, ways.
  • And psychotherapy and counselling can help you eliminate self destructive patterns of behaviour and patterns of thinking. By examining the root cause of the destructive patterns, with your psychotherapist or counsellor, you will gain an understanding of why you are behaving destructively and, together with your therapist, find a healthier way forward.

Begin to bear what might have felt unbearable

What is Psychotherapy ~ How Does Therapy Work?

Psychotherapy is a journey of self exploration that you embark upon with your therapist. Revealing your thoughts and feelings to a stranger is not always easy but the trained psychotherapist provides a confidential, non judgemental and empathic environment where trust can be built and exploration can commence.

Through therapy you will be led to greater self understanding and self awareness; an understanding of the cause of your difficulties and an awareness of why you are feeling the way you are feeling. Looking at past experiences and emotional patterns can be useful as early experiences can determine how you behave and feel as adults. Early relationships with parents or carers often define the relationships we have in later life, both with others as well as with ourselves. Through therapy, we become more conscious of our patterns of behaviour and emotional functioning. This sense of self awareness leads to a greater sense of wellbeing, freedom and personal authority.

During psychotherapy, defences will be confronted and underlying anxieties uncovered that can reveal true and intensely experienced feelings. Making connections between these defences, anxieties and true feelings can develop new ‘self-awareness’, and a capacity to understand difference in others and in the world in which you live, so that you can begin to bear what might have felt unbearable.

On the left are listed some of the issues with which our psychotherapist / counsellors regularly work