Overview of counseling and psychotherapy Essay

This essay has a total of 1286 words and 8 pages.


overview of counseling and psychotherapy





I. Title

Overview of Counseling and Psychotherapy

II. Definition

Psychotherapy is the treatment of individuals with emotional problems, behavioral
problems, or mental illness primarily through verbal communication. At one time the term
psychotherapy referred to a form of psychiatric treatment used with severely disturbed
individuals. Counseling, on the other hand, refers to the treatment of people with milder
psychological problems or to advice given on vocational and educational matters.
Counseling psychologists usually work in schools or industrial firms, advising and
assisting people. Today the distinction between psychotherapy and counseling is quite
blurred, and many mental health professionals use the terms interchangeably.


III. Presentation and Discussion

Psychotherapy is an important form of treatment for many kinds of psychological problems.
In most types of psychotherapy, as well as counseling, a person discusses his or her
problems one-on-one with a therapist. The therapist tries to understand the person's
problems and to help the individual change distressing thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.
People often seek psychotherapy when they have tried other approaches, like counseling, to
solving a personal problem. For example, people who are depressed, anxious, or have drug
or alcohol problems may find that talking to friends or family members is not enough to
resolve their problems. Sometimes people may want to talk to a therapist about problems
they would feel uncomfortable discussing with friends or family, such as being sexually
abused as a child. Finding a therapist to talk to who is knowledgeable about emotional
problems, has patients' best interests at heart, and is relatively objective can be
extremely helpful.


Psychotherapy differs in two ways from counseling or from the informal help or advice that
one person may give another. First, a trained, certified, or licensed therapist conducts
psychotherapy. In addition, treatment methods in psychotherapy are guided by
well-developed theories about the sources of personal problems.


The concept of counseling, on the other hand, is essentially liberal in that the
assumptions underlying its theory and practice are, first, that each individual has the
right to shape his own destiny and second, that the relatively mature and experienced
members of the community are responsible for ensuring that each person's choice shall
serve both his own interests and those of the society to which he belongs. Anybody can
give advice to anyone who needs it. Thus, counseling can take place almost anywhere and
at anytime. The counselor does not attempt, however, to solve the person's problems for
him. Adjustment is an individual matter that each person must discover for himself, and
the counselor mainly tries to clarify the person's own thinking so that he can be
guaranteed the fulfillment of his personal needs and aspirations.


Mental health professionals agree that the effectiveness of therapy depends to a large
extent on the quality of the relationship between the client and therapist. In general,
the better the rapport is between therapist and client, the better the outcome of therapy.
If a person does not trust a therapist enough to describe deeply personal problems, the
therapist will have trouble helping the person change and improve. For clients, trusting
that the therapist can provide help for their problems is essential for making progress.


The founder of person-centered therapy, Carl Rogers, believed that the most important
qualities in a therapist are being genuine, accepting, and empathic. Almost all therapists
today would agree that these qualities are important. Being genuine means that therapists
care for the client and behave toward the client as they really feel. Being accepting
means that therapists should appreciate clients for who they are, despite the things that
they may have done. Therapists do not have to agree with clients, but they must accept
them. Being empathic means those therapists understand the client's feelings and
experiences and convey this understanding back to the client.


IV. Summary

What is more effective then? Psychotherapy or counseling? This question has been hotly
debated for decades, and research on this issue presents many difficulties. In conducting
studies that compare different therapies, researchers seek to make sure that each
treatment group is as similar as possible. For example, researchers may limit the groups
to people with the same severity of depression. In addition, within each treatment group,
researchers try to make sure that therapists are using the same techniques and are trained
similarly. However, patients do not come to therapy with simple problems that fit easily
into studies. Furthermore, therapists of the same theoretical orientation may vary in
their techniques and in the skillfulness with which they apply them.


Because of these problems, there is no conclusive answer about which type of therapy is
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