What is a counselling psychologist?
"Counselling psychologists understand diagnosis and the medical context to mental health problems and at the same time work with the individual’s unique subjective psychological experience to empower their recovery (...) It has its origins in the UK within the humanistic movement with influences from counselling psychology in the USA and European Psychotherapy on the one hand; and the science of psychology (cognitive, developmental, and social) on the other (...) it seeks to develop phenomenological models of practice and enquiry in addition to that of traditional scientific psychology" (BPS, 2013).
A counselling psychologist works collaboratively with individuals in dealing with a wide range of lifes difficulties, e.g. anxiety, depression, domestic violence, phobias, relationship issues, bereavement, etc. Counselling psychologists look at an indivduals past, present and perceived future to try and identify and make sense of how their internal and external world processes can be linked by phenomenons that take place in time.
Counselling psychologists also explore conscious and unconscious processes and work with an individual to try and gain a deeper understanding of their internal and external world and how the two link together. Counselling psychologists use interventions and techniques to encourage positive personal psychological growth for their clients.
What is cognitive behavioural therapy?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) usually consists of short term therapy which focuses in the here and now. It identifies how our thoughts and beliefs are connected to our behaviours and physiological symptoms.
For example, if we interpret a situation in a negative way, we may then experience negative thoughts and emotions. As a result, these negative constructs may lead us to behave in a negative way. If these negative interpretations go unchallenged, this can result in a negative response to specific situations.
CBT allows us to identify and chanllenge some of these negative thinking patterns which help us to think in a more realistic and positive way. CBT teaches us different ways of thinking and coping. This can help us to feel different in specific situations which can subsequently have a positive influence on our behaviour.
What is psychodynamic therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy recognises that the unconscious mind stores memories, thoughts and feelings that we are unaware of. These unconscious processes can have a direct link to our conscious thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
In a psychodynamic therapy session, the therapist actively listens to the client in an empathic and non-judgemental way which encourages the client to open up and explore unresolved conflict buried within their unconscious. This uncovering of unconscious processes can help the client to understand their moods and behaviours further and feel empowered to make a positive change in their lives.
The client-therapist relationship is important in psychodynamic therapy as re-directed feelings can be transferred onto the therapist. An experienced therapist who knows her own cognitive processes well, will be able to recognise the unconscious transference of the clients emotions and have the ability to interpret and reflect back to the client. This is a powerful therapy tool as the client does not realise at times what she/he is doing and a realisation of this can aid in a deeper understanding of the self and facilitate therapeutic growth.
In psychodynamic therapy, the therapist will at times interject with his/her own thoughts and hypothesis in relation to the client. These can be concepts that the client may be unaware of and may contribute to facilitating a deeper understanding of self and positive personal growth for the client.
What is person centred therapy?
Peron centred therapy is a humanistic therapy approach which focuses on the ways in which an individual views themselves consciously. The therapist actively listens and mirrors the client whilst providing sufficient positive feedback to empower the client to further explore their difficulties in a safe, understanding and non-judgemental environment.
Carl Rogers created person-centred therapy in the 1950s. He proposed that humans have an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. This means that we have a natural 'want' to create the best version of ourselves. We want to grow in a positive way and develop towards our own potential. Person-centred therapy encourages us, as indivduals, to have a healthy psychological outlook, trust our own feelings and have a true relationship with ourselves and our life experience.
A person centred therapy session is a non-directive therapy approach led by the client which focuses on the here and now. The relationship between the client and therapist plays a big part in person centred therapy. The development of trust and understanding between client and therapist encourages self-awareness and realisation within the client in regards to their own processes and issues. This allows the client to reflect on their problems and think of solutions with gentle encouragement from the therapist. These processes facilitate positive therapeutic growth for the client.
What is integrative therapy?
As a counsellor, I have worked with many different individuals who all have different personalities and different presenting problems. No mode of therapy has ever been exactly the same for each individual because we are all different, we function in different ways and come to therapy for different reasons.
As a counsellor I have worked solely within the respective CBT, person-centred and psychodynamic therapy approaches if the service or client needed it. However, I also work within an integrative therapy approach.
As an integrative counsellor I use specific techniques and key concepts drawn from the various therapeutic approaches spoken about above. This integration of various approaches is tailored to each specific client and their need and way of working. It is a flexible therapy approach and allows me to focus on the whole of the client.
For example, if I am working with a client who has been feeling acute depression and doesnt feel like doing much, we could undertake some cognitive work to gain a deeper understanding of his/her low mood and set tasks to encourage him/her to incorporate into his/her life things s/he enjoys (CBT). We would also do some work looking into his/her past to try and understand where his/her depression started and acknowledging any unconscious processes s/he displays in the session but may be unaware of (psychodynamic). The foundations of an integrative approach would be to continously utilise Rogers core conditions. To facilitate personal growth for the client so that s/he would feel empowered to lead a more positive life (person-centred). This is a therapeutic model which is tailored specifically for this individual.