Southfields Counselling

About Counselling and Psychotherapy

The terms counselling and psychotherapy whilst different relate to the same process. Sometimes the distinction is made suggesting that counselling is directive whereas psychotherapy is reflective. In my own practice I use the terms interchangeably.

Humanistic counselling is relational, non-directive, focusing on the quality of therapy, especially the therapist’s attitude towards the client expressed through employing three core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Both client and therapist actively engage in shaping the process of assessment, intervention and evaluation of outcomes. Stress is placed upon the individual's capacity for self-regulation, self-actualisation, responsibility and choice that underpins change.

Existential counselling is a method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual's confrontation with the human givens of existence. These givens are: the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation, and finally meaninglessness. As a therapy it is regarded as a serious enquiry into what it means to be human. It involves what is often a painful process of facing up to those aspects of humanity that are often avoided and evaded.

Psychodynamic counselling understands the person as a dynamic interpersonal field shaped by early relationships that unconsciously drive present ones. Making early developmental relationships explicit, together with working with a client’s defences against unconscious pain is central to successful therapy. Throughout the therapist remains focused on the dynamics between the client and the therapist.

Cognitive-behavioural counselling aims to influence dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and cognitions through a goal oriented, systematic procedure. Therapy is short-term (6 to 12 sessions), structured and directive and can often include the client working on material between sessions.

Transpersonal therapy aims to uncover and support human desire for self-actualisation. The end state of therapy is not seen as successful adjustment to the prevailing culture but rather the daily experience of that state called liberation and individuation. The transpersonal therapist's focus would include spiritual self-development, mystical experiences and other metaphysical experiences of living.

Systemic therapy understands that individuals cannot be understood in isolation but rather within various systems, this includes the family system, as well as work and social life. It involves gathering the system together and discussing how current behaviours are being perpetuated and how change may come about. Rather than providing answers and solutions, the therapist is more of a facilitator, aiding members of the system to provide, discuss and carry out solutions of their own.

Integrative counselling involves bringing together several distinct models of counselling and psychotherapy to the therapeutic relationship. It enables the client to address a range of life difficulties and effect change, and can be applicable to brief counselling and to open-ended, longer term work. Therefore, it is very appropriate for working with life difficulties, including trauma, workplace difficulties and disability and ill-health.

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