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Francis Atkinson MSC Psychotherapist. Mbacp (Snr. Accred)
Counsellor in Shoreditch E1 & Liverpool St EC2

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy?
There are many opinions as to what the difference between counselling and psychotherapy is. Many counsellors and psychotherapists might disagree with the understanding below. What is most important is how you understand therapy for your self as a client, and what you want to get out of it, no matter what it is called.

We understand counselling to be more of a 'focussed' approach around particular issues, such as, bereavement, redundancy, relationship break up, work, bullying, and so on, with more emphasis on the immediate impact and need for some resolution. The counselling is about the individual in relation to that ‘issue’, or the issue in relation to that individual, and how they are dealing, or not dealing, with it. Hopefully, the counselling will help the individual to come to an understanding and resolution of the issue/problem, but without it being a more explorative process of themselves.

Psychotherapy, on the other hand, could be seen as a more long-term exploration of the whole person in relation to themselves (their inner world), and others (their external world) past and present. It is a more long term narrative about the individual’s life, their experiences and relationship patterns, (often repeated), and where they now find themselves in their world. Through this (generally but not always) longer term process of exploration, the individual would hopefully be able to work through their experiences, so that they can make more conscious and informed choices.

How do I know if I need counselling/psychotherapy?
Given that you are reading this, it is probably the case that you are not feeling to good in your emotional and/or psychological world, but perhaps not knowing why. In contacting a counsellor/psychotherapist, it would normally be part of the initial process to discuss whether counselling/psychotherapy is the most appropriate course of action, or whether other options need to be considered.

How many sessions will I need?
This will probably depend on the issue(s) that you bring. If it is a particular or specific issue then it may be that just a few sessions are enough. But if there are a number of issues and/or it is more about who you are and how you feel about yourself generally, then it may take longer. It is more difficult to put a ‘figure’ on more long term issues. In most cases,this will be part of the discussion in the initial session(s).

What does Confidentiality mean?
Confidentiality means that generally what you tell your counsellor/psychotherapist will remain between the two of you. However, there are exceptions and some limitations to this, which will again be discussed with you in the initial session(s). But, in most circumstances, what you talk about will remain within the confines and professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship.

N.B. If a counsellor or psychotherapist offers you 'total' confidentiality, I would suggest you ask them what they mean by this.

What does Accreditation and/or Registration mean?
Accreditation and Registration are synonymous terms for more or less the same thing. They both identify that the counsellor and/or psychotherapist have had a minimum level of professional training and experience, and are accountable to a professional therapeutic body, such a: BACP/UKCP/BCP/BPS, with regards to their work as a counsellor/psychotherapist. It also means that if you are unhappy with the service that you receive, you can take out a complaint against the therapist with the professional body that they are accredited or registered with.

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