These are terms you will come across everywhere. It can be confusing and I’m often asked what’s the difference. Here’s how I see it.

Counselling – involves listening to the issues and feelings you bring up in a non-judgmental way. Counsellors work towards helping you to see your situation from a range of perspectives that are more useful than the one you are currently relying on. Counsellors may or may not have academic training.

Therapy – usually involves someone with some sort of academic qualification in the social sciences who has then gone on to train in one or more ways of working with people to help them effect change. These may be Social Workers, Counselling Psychologists, Occupational Therapists or other professionals with a background in the social sciences.

Coaching – may or may not have academic qualifications and usually involves a very limited, task and goal focused orientation. A coach will typically focus on what your goals are, find out what is in your way, and design some sort of program to help you tackle the obstacles that you both identify are in the way. They will also work to resource you to achieve your goals. There is a very practical, pragmatic orientation involved in how issues are approached.

Psychology – involves either a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and or a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology or a Ph D. They may or may not engage in doing some psychological tests as part of their approach to finding out what your situation involves and will work with you to overcome your issues using a number of approaches such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and relaxation training.

Psychotherapy – involves someone with one or more academic qualifications in the social sciences who has then gone on to train in one or more other therapeutic approaches in how to work with a diverse range of clients and a wide range of issues. The issues addressed are more wide ranging, we may include delving into the back story behind the problem. The approaches available to the practitioner are usually be more tailored to the client’s needs.

Psychiatry – involves a medical doctor who has specialised in diagnosing in the area of mental health and mental illness. Psychiatrists generally diagnose the medical and usually drug related treatment of such conditions. Your General Practitioner and psychiatrists are the only ones who can prescribe medication such as anti-depressants and mood stabilisers in Australia.

As a Psychotherapist I am fully qualified to assist you with therapy and counselling. My approach involves looking at the deeper aspects of what factors have contributed to you being in the position you find yourself in. I will assist you with finding the resources you need to make the changes you want in your life. .

Therapy requires me to be a little like an optician: depending on how the person in front of me sees the world, I need to have different lenses to offer them to ‘see’ more clearly; at different times, and in working with different issues, some of these lenses will prove to be more helpful than others. Therapeutic approaches are like lenses of varying usefulness, depending on the person, the context they live in, and the issues they want to deal with.

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