There are over 500 different types of talking therapy all aimed at helping people to resolve psychological, interpersonal and behavioural problems including anxiety, depression, low self esteem, eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder), relationship problems, stress and panic. These psychological treatments each have their own name for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Psychodynamic Counselling, Gestalt Therapy, Family Therapy, & Marriage Counselling. This vast array of talking therapies, although providing lots of choice for the individual looking to resolve a mental health problem, means that, amongst the lay person there is some confusion about what is going to be helpful.
Counselling and Psychotherapy appear to be the two main umbrella terms used to describe talking therapies but confusingly these are used differently by different therapist with there being no universal agreement regarding definition. Some therapists will use the terms counselling and psychotherapy to differentiate between the length of treatment and depth of the exploration i.e. a focus on current issues versus past experiences, however there is no consistency in the use of the terms with them on the whole being used interchangeably.
The real difference in this area seems to lie in the training, qualification and experience of the therapist. Regulation in this field is surprisingly limited with only the practice of Psychologists (including clinical and counselling psychologists) being comprehensively regulated by The Health Care Professions Council. Clinical and Psychologists trained for between seven and ten years and hold both an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate in Clinical or Counselling Psychology (or equivalent). The use of the term counsellor and psychotherapist however is not currently protected by a professional body meaning that anyone can use the term and there is no standard route for those training. Counsellors and psychotherapists are under no legal obligation to register with a professional body and so are able to practice without having to abide by a code of ethics and complaints procedures. Regulation for these therapists is currently left to the discretion of the individual counsellor or psychotherapist.
At The British CBT & Counselling Service we only employ Clinical and Counselling Psychologists, registered to practice with The Health Care Professions Council and chartered with The British Psychological Society.
If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our page about Mental Health problems useful.