two women sitting beside table and talking

Individual Counselling and Psychotherapy provide much needed support for mental health and well-being. Taking regular sessions can be beneficial in improving psychological well-being. This also has a positive impact on overall health.

The Need For Counselling And Psychotherapy

The aim of individual counselling and psychotherapy is usually to resolve certain conflicts in the client’s life so as to improve their quality of life and wellbeing. A visit to the physician’s office will help you recover from that fever or cold, or get medicines for a wound. Similarly, counselling and psychotherapy will work on emotional wounds, problems with habits, relationships, life’s stressors  and mental illnesses. 

Good mental health goes beyond just helping us emotionally and psychologically. It also spreads its benefits to our physical health and overall well-being. It is very important to assess, reflect and keep a check on our emotional and mental wellbeing. Whenever one feels that there is a need, we must reach out for support.

How is Counselling and Psychotherapy Different From Talking to a Friend

You may be wondering that if counselling and therapy involve talking, then how is that any different to talking to a friend or a loved one? This is a fair question to have and it has a very important answer. 

Talking to a friend, a partner, a parent, or any confidant (even a colleague) can be very helpful indeed. So why pay for expensive therapy? Here are a number of reasons that make counselling and psychotherapy different:

Counselling and Psychotherapy is not opinionated and is not advice giving

When we share, there is one thing that often puts s off. The person in front of us, with all their good intentions, immediately jumps to advice giving. “Why don’t you start meditating?” They may also share opinions that we may not relate to. “In my opinion, you should keep your phone in another room when sleeping and never put it in your pocket.”   

A psychologist, counsellor or psychotherapist is not there to share their opinions. They may share their insights,  may help you reach towards solutions or help you dig deeper. However, they will not be imposing their opinions or advice. 

You may be wondering, why then should we seek help from a counselling if they won’t give any advice. The point here is that a counsellor will help you reach decisions that are best for you. They will not decide what is best for you. They may make recommendations for ways and methods in which you can get to what you want. However, they will not attempt to change your will without your consent.  

You are in the driver's seat

When in therapy, you will be choosing the direction in which to move forward. More than just talking, you are making decisions about what to focus on, what to talk about and what to work on. You are setting goals with the counsellor or therapist’s help and are moving forward in the direction that you wish to take.

Talking to a loved one or confidant can be helpful in making you feel better by venting. There is comfort in sharing and knowing that the person you are sharing with truly cares about you. A counsellor or therapist is likely to have a real bond where they do care about your well being as well. On top of that when you need specific professional guidance, your loved one may not be able to help you beyond a point the way a professional would.

Counselling and Psychotherapy provides a confidential, private space

When sharing with a loved one, friend or confidant, we may often request them to keep the information we shared private and confidential. Sometimes, we may leave it to their discretion. However, at times we do hold back on sharing due to the fear that our personal information may become public or may reach the ears of someone we are not comfortable with.  

One of the hallmarks of therapy is the confidentiality and privacy that comes with it. This is a safe private space for us to share with someone who doesn’t know us personally and is going to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the information shared. This ensures that when in therapy, we can share those things as well that we never felt comfortable in sharing ever before. It may take us some time to get comfortable even with a professional, so do give it time. 

Limits to Confidentiality

I must inform you though that there are some legal and ethical limits to confidentiality. These do vary depending on the legal and ethical framework. This is mostly restricted to situations where there may be harm to the client or to someone else if information is not shared. Even in such situations, a very restricted amount of information is shared and not details of the conversation had with the therapist. For example, a family member of a client with intent to commit suicide may be alerted to be careful and on watch. They will not receive any other details shared during sessions.     

A therapist will  listen carefully

Attentive listening is a skill that may come naturally to some, but that psychologist definitely needs to be trained for. Have you ever shared with someone and noticed that they were not really listening or were distracted or missed important parts of the information you gave? That is not attentive listening. 

Have you ever experienced someone giving you their undivided attention, asking you meaningful questions, seeking clarification, showing genuine interest in what you have to say? If yes, you know what attentive listening feels like.

A-Class empathy 

Our friends and family love us and care for us. That we are often quite confident about. Yet, at times, we may feel that they don’t “get us”. We may feel misunderstood, unheard or blamed when speaking about our problems. This is not due to a lack of love or concern but rather a lack of empathy. 

It’s not that people don’t have empathy, many people will and do display empathy. However, a professional therapist is able to tune in deeper and can provide a deeper level of empathy. This is due to not just their training, but also their natural tendencies that drew them to the profession. 

A therapist will have methods and techniques

A therapist will use specific techniques and methods depending on your concern and their judgement of what is likely to help you. They may also provide you with tools that you can continue to use even outside of therapy. Some of these may be to dig deeper or get to a deeper understanding of your concerns. Some of them may be practical useful tools or tips that can help you in a more practical situation. 

Counselling and Psychotherapy provides unbiased support (relatively)

There is a reason why surgeons don’t operate on their kin. The same applied to therapists as well. They won’t provide professional counselling and therapy to a close friend or family member. This is because in such circumstances it will be hard for them to be unbiased. 

You may be familiar with this that a lot of times when we are speaking to our friends and family, they make certain assumptions about us. They may skip to the same old advice or tend to assume where our faults may lie. Sometimes they may even fail to recognise our weaknesses due to their love and bias towards us. It is absolutely normal in close relationships to be biassed.  

Now as a psychologist, I believe that being completely unbiased is practically impossible for humans. However, psychologists do make extra efforts to be as unbiased to their clients as possible.  Furthermore, being a stranger, they will be meeting the current you without the baggage of years of experience.

Signs and Symptoms that Counselling and Psychotherapy is Needed

At times visiting a counsellor or therapist may be a hygiene check for when we may not be at our best. You can think of this like visiting a dentist for a regular check up. However, there are times when it is recommended, needed or even urgent. This is when there are clear signs and symptoms. 

Visit out page with a quick checklist to know if counselling and therapy are recommended for you.

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