Discussions about psychotherapy and counselling can be confusing. The good news is that broadly, counselling and psychotherapy are effective, and most people who undertake them will benefit. However, one of the main challenges is to say what works.
There is a range of different theories, both about how difficulties arise and how they can be resolved. Some of these may be familiar, such as psychoanalysis, person-centred therapy, or cognitive-behavioural therapy. Although some approaches may seem to offer the ‘treatment of choice’, in practice this may be because they can seem easier to research, particularly if they can apparently be specified in manuals. There is also a risk that research methods designed to research the impact of medications can get applied to psychological therapies as if the therapies involved standard active ingredients rather than human relationships between unique individuals. A more thoughtful examination of the research evidence suggests that psychological therapies work best when there is a good working alliance between client or patient and therapist, and when the therapist has a clear rationale for their understanding of the problem and for their work that can be shared with, appreciated by and engaged in by the client.
Because I have the benefit of a background in both psychology (the academic and applied discipline which aims to understand the mind, behaviour and experience) and psychotherapy (the practice discipline of the art and science of addressing difficulties of behaviour and experience), as well as many years of working in different settings, I have a lot of resources to draw on. My aim is to use these resources to decide with each client or client group on the best way forward.