Getting to the Bottom of Counselling and Psychotherapy and Their Benefits

5 mins

Counselling and psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, are healthcare services that are utilized in schools, hospitals, private clinics, and more. They help people deal with their personal and emotional issues, as well as encourage personal development and growth so that these individuals can more effectively use coping and emotional management strategies in the future. It is important to delineate the various aspects of counselling and psychotherapy, so that individuals can gain a better understanding of what they are and seek the proper care for themselves and their loved ones when needed.

There are many different types of counselling and psychotherapy that exist, with each role requiring different education and training. One example is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is helpful in the context of a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. This form of therapy can help you change the way that you think (cognitive), which has an impact on what you do (behaviour). By altering negative thoughts and emotions into more positive ones, your behaviours will become more positive as a result. Other types of counselling and psychotherapy include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which helps individuals who have experienced traumatic events and is especially useful in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and play therapy, which is primarily used to help children with emotional expression and to combat difficult behaviour.

The relationship that is shared between patient and counsellor/therapist is also a core component of effective counselling and psychotherapy. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that a number of relationship factors including agreeing on therapy goals and gathering client feedback throughout the course of treatment are just as important, if not more important in achieving a positive outcome than using the right treatment method. There is also evidence that reinforces the importance of a strong professional relationship between therapist and patient, that this relationship can increase the likelihood of patients remaining in therapy. Therefore, finding a counsellor or therapist that you can connect with and who is suitable for your own personal needs is of the utmost importance when deriving benefit from counselling and therapy.  

In some cases, talk therapy can be comparable to the effectiveness of medication, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) recommends CBT, behavioural activation (BA; related to CBT), and interpersonal therapy (IPT; improves interpersonal functioning) as first-line when treating mild to moderate depression. In addition, several forms of psychotherapy including CBT and exposure therapy (helps people confront their fears and anxieties) are effective in treating anxiety disorders. If you are considering any of these choices, you should first speak to a healthcare professional to see what the best option for you is.

Counselling and psychotherapy allow individuals to be heard by trained healthcare professionals who are non-judgemental and impartial in their communications with you. They may help you devise coping strategies and provide resources that are relevant to your situation, or work with you to get to the root of your negative emotions so that it becomes easier to dispel them. This allows you to improve your communication with others, increase your self-esteem and confidence, and resolve conflict in healthier ways. Not only do counsellors and therapists help find solutions to your problems, they encourage personal growth through the acquisition of new skills and the strengthening of mental and emotional wellbeing.

In conclusion, counselling and psychotherapy are not one-size-fits-all services. Consider the form of counselling that is most suitable for you, as well as what the individual therapist has to offer. It may take several tries for you to find a form of counselling or a counsellor/therapist for you, and that’s okay! What matters is that you have ample opportunity to explore your thoughts, emotions, and previous experiences with someone who is able to help you to the best of their ability. This way, you are able to benefit from counselling and therapy and gradually develop yourself into the best person that you can be.


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