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Psychotherapy or Counselling

There is often confusion of Psychotherapy and Counselling.  My view is that in essence both are seeking to support you.  However, psychotherapy is viewed as working to a deeper emotional depth, yet in my experience there are many counsellors who are very able to work at a deep level, yet you cannot assume this, so you need to enquire and ask questions.

Psychotherapy and counselling is not a regulated profession in the UK so I would consider it essential to ensure you look for a psychotherapist / counsellor who is registered with a professional body; the two main ones being UKCP and BACP

Through discussion and research the UK Government has leaned towards describing Psychotherapy as a profession that requires a Master's Degree of qualification and Counselling as requiring an Ordinary Degree of qualification.

That said, I am uncomfortable with a strict criteria of academic achievement in defining an individual's ability as a psychotherpist/counsellor.

So, what is psychotherapy?  A talking therapy; a one-to-one engagement that is a shared experience for the purpose of allowing you -the client - to understand more fully and clearly you as a person and your situation.  And the purpose of this is to support you to know more clearly what troubles you; what properly supports you; and what you might let go of (and how you might let go)

These may include feelings of anxiety, depression, trauma, or perhaps what is perceived as the loss of meaning of one's life. Psychotherapy is a process which seeks to help you gain an increased capacity for choice, through which you become more autonomous and self-determined.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt psychotherapy approaches the world of the client from a stance of accepting the client as they are. That the client is being as they are, in the best possible way, through having adjusted and adapted their life experiences.

The Gestalt approach rests on the belief that anyone can, if they want to and have sufficient support, learn how to function in life with greater skill and satisfaction (Parlett and Hemming, 1996, p197)

The Gestalt approach is based on the absolute inseparable unity of bodily experience, language, thought and behaviour (whether or not in awareness). Clarkson (2000, p20), and Zinker (1978, p162) both identify that the goal of Gestalt therapy is awareness, and awareness is that an individual is attending to his experience

The goal is for the client to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how they can change themselves and learn to value and accept themselves The Sherwood Institute (2004, p1)

Gestalt psychotherapy is a humanistic, holistic model of therapy. From Perls et al (1951:1984, p257) We see that meaningful wholes exist throughout nature, in physical and conscious behaviour both, in the body and the mind. A holistic approach takes into account the total self, mind and body as one.

Gestalt works with what is in awareness (figural) and what is not (ground). With this the work is relational. As a model of therapy Gestalt is phenomenological.

Phenomenology is a search for understanding based on what is obvious or revealed by the situation rather than the interpretation of the observer Yontef (1993, p182)


Additionally, my practice as a Gestalt therapist is dialogic, the overall relational context in which the uniqueness of each person is valued and direct mutual, and open relations between persons are emphasised, and the fullness and presence of the human spirit is honoured and embraced Hycner & Jacobs (1995 p4)

Dialogical psychotherapy is concerned with the clients whole existence (Heard, 1993 p8), and is based on the work of Martin Buber, who put forward the concept of the I-Thou dialogue, which is the foundation of dialogical psychotherapy (ibid, p1)

Within an I-Thou relationship the parties express and accept each other as they are, and that in relating to each other fully do so in the present, here and now. In this way healing comes from the meeting together.

People are not people unless they are in relationship with others; no true human can exist without real or fantasied relationships. (Erskine et al 1999, p157)

In the space between, and with, two people lies the centre of polarities of connectedness and separateness. The polarities are I-It and I-Thou. These are primary attitudes of connectedness (Thou) and separateness (It) (Hycner and Jacobs, 1995)

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