Page updated: 04-08-2018
What is psychotherapy and counseling? The topic is large. This page offers general information about it through various articles that I’ve written.
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Psychotherapy and counseling generally refer to the services and assistance you receive when you seek professional help for your mental health. They often appear together because one is a service and one is the professional assistance you receive from licensed professional counselor *. Psychotherapy is the service and counseling is the professional assistance.
If the world of "psychology" is a tree, counseling psychology is a branch on the tree of psychology. The purpose of counseling psychology is to support overall mental health and the ability to function in daily living throughout life. In general, most people have longer lives these days and lots of changes occur over it. Some changes are easy, some are hard and there’s a whole lot in between. At times it’s hard to adjust, it feels overwhelming and it becomes hard to adapt and grow and move on. Change is hard sometimes.
Counseling psychology helps tremendously with adapting, growing and moving on. It helps with change and it helps with the times we get stuck. Counseling psychology helps us get unstuck and get on with the change. When we grow, we change and move on into living life more fully.
Counseling psychology’s focus is on supporting people in three areas: adjustment, distress and well-being. Helping a person who becomes a client or patient to address challenges effectively through reducing distress, adjusting to-adapting to the change and moving into a better experience of feeling “well” or well-being, especially our mental health wellness. Counseling psychology frequently helps a client discover better coping skills so s/he/they can roll with the change and grow.
Licensed professionals trained in counseling psychology are referred to as counselors, professional counselors, mental health counselors, psychotherapists and therapists to name a few labels. Some specialize in different areas across a human life span. They may specialize in working with children, or adults, or elders, or families or individuals who are LGBTQ or combinations of specialties like children and families and much more. Counselors help the people with the challenges that they face daily.
Psychotherapy refers to the tool or service provided by a licensed counselor who counsels. This means they use psychological tools or services also called therapies, which helps to improve mental health wellness and overall wellbeing, reduce stress and enable change through adjustment. Along with their training in therapeutic ways of interacting and reparative communicating, a licensed professional counselor can offer perspective, assessment, treatment options as well as provide diagnosis for mental health challenges related to habits of acting, thinking and/or feeling that keep a person from living the life they want.
There are 4 general categories of therapy, though there are many types of therapy. These categories are:
In short, psychotherapy and counseling work well together. Together through the therapeutic relationship, a person can face their distress, connect with inherent personal strengths, learn new skills and receive help in coping with life’s changes in order to adapt and grow. Psychotherapy and counseling help to cultivate mental health wellness and overall well-being.
* In the U.S., in addition to a licensed clinical professional counselor, psychotherapy can also be provided by other trained professionals who are licensed by their state such as a social worker, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychiatric nurse.
VandenBos, G. R. (2007). counseling. A.P.A. dictionary of psychology (p. 237). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
VandenBos, G. R. (2007). Counseling psychology. A.P.A. dictionary of psychology (p. 238). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
VandenBos, G. R. (2007). psychotherapy. A.P.A. dictionary of psychology (p. 757). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.