Psychotherapy Perspectives

Monday, August 21, 2006

What is the difference between Counseling and Psychotherapy?

Some professionals call themselves “counselors” and others are called “psychotherapists” What is the difference between the two? I can only venture a professional “guess” and this reflects only the philosophy of Davis Mintun Professional Services Inc. In no way can this be purported as a “truth” among professional psychotherapists or counselors.

To us, counseling is more educational and professional guidance or advice giving. The territory the counselor covers is more specialized, i.e., school guidance counseling, addiction program counseling to name a few examples. Often there is a structure of the work that encompasses educational interaction and a defined structure.

For example, a substance abuse counselor as a part of counseling may state that the client must have a sponsor, enroll in a 12 step program and the counseling may incorporate the 12 step program. The counselor will assist the person in his or her recovery and this will be the main focus of the intervention. Marital issues, depression, anxiety may or may not be addressed but it is not the focus of the intervention.

In psychotherapy, the approach is generally toward deepening “insight” emotionally then counseling. Again using the example of substance abuse, a psychotherapist may look at the foundation of addiction in the person’s life. Generally the psychotherapist can delve into marital issues and family issues to intervene in the foundation of the substance abuse. Often psychotherapy encourages clients go to 12 Step programs, get an AA sponsor, etc, but the focus is often more holistic. In psychotherapy the root of the problem is the focus with less emphasis on treatment modalities, education on substance abuse and more insight oriented.

Both counseling and psychotherapy are important and have their place. What the client or consumer needs to be aware of is the difference so they will go to a professional who will meet their expectations.

What are your thoughts? What have your experiences been with counselors and psychotherapists?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dealing with the Stress of Transition

Do you ever have times when “everything seems to change” all at once? You had a job and now you don’t, or you trusted someone and now you don’t. Perhaps you heard your work is being “reorganized” and that generally means “working more for less or not working at all”. And on top of that a good friend or relative or parent passed away.

All of the above are stressors in life. Work, death and relationship changes are the largest stressors that human beings encounter in life. The support network is at the premium at this time. Who are your supports? Do you have friends, family, significant others or relatives to talk with? How about your place of worship, do you have a minister, rabbi or priest to talk with? In times of stress we need multiple supports with people. If the supports are not there for you, you may consider psychotherapy to provide the help and the plan to receive the support you need.

Going to a psychotherapist can help you plan a systematic plan for dealing with your stress. Questions the therapist may ask are the following:

Who are people that can trust and nurture you and you can talk with?

Although you may not be able to change the situation of the __________, i.e., job, death, is there anything else you can change that is causing you stress.

Are there other factors that can lessen your burden?

What can you do to help yourself stay connected with yourself during these stressful times?

Are you breathing fully?

Often time’s psychotherapists teach how to meditate or do exercises to reduce stress. The breath is the key to holding or releasing stress in your body. Are you fully breathing all the time and when you feel anxiety do you quickly “belly breath” ?

Another important aspect of reducing stress is staying in the PRESENT . This is most easily done through breathe and your senses, i.e., smell, touch, hearing and seeing—you can only do this if your are Present!!

Stress reduction takes practice, lots of support from others and often the help from a psychotherapist. Any Comments, can you add additional techniques to handle stress?