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What is Counselling Psychology?

Counselling psychology places the therapeutic relationship, and the very ability to form relationships with the other, at the very core of practice, research and training (Division of Counselling Psychology, 2004; 2005).

Counselling psychology is a form of professional applied psychology, where evidence based practice is put at the heart of therapy, aiming to help those in distress through collaborative and effective practice.

Practitioners of Counselling Psychology are trained to doctoral level, in a range of therapeutic modalities; and show a high degree of self-awareness. This allows them to assess and formulate therapeutic interventions that are applicable to the individual’s emotional distress and are collaborative in nature.

Integrative and Pluralistic Therapy

Integration in counselling highlights the need for different therapeutic schools to look beyond the confines of their modality and explore other contributions to therapy and psychological change. What unites therapeutic practitioners from different disciplines, who define themselves as integrative, is a move towards pushing the boundaries of any one purist approach and embracing diversity from the various therapeutic schools.

More recently a pluralistic perspective and pluralistic approach to therapy has been put forward. The pluralist perspective highlights that there is no one best set of therapeutic methods. That in fact, different clients will benefit from different methods. The pluralist approach has two central tenets; that lots of things can be helpful to clients and that if we want to know what is helpful, we should talk to our clients.

Dr Farrah Collins defines her practice as both integrative and pluralistic.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapies are traditionally associated with the analyst’s couch and the works of Sigmund Freud. Recent psychodynamic thinking has moved on from this but still highlights that the relational difficulties experienced in the lives of clients and in the therapeutic relationship are rooted in the past. Psychodynamic therapies use theory and the therapeutic relationship to provide insight for clients and allow relationship patterns to be explored through “transference and counter-transference”.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of therapeutic intervention that assists in helping individuals to manage their symptoms of distress. It is based on the premise that how we think, or our cognitions, impact our feelings, which in turn determines our behaviours. More recent work on CBT has incorporated mindfulness, acceptance and compassion based CBT. In practice this allows clients to be able to manage their presenting symptoms and see the benefits of therapy from early on. It is an active and collaborative type of therapy where both therapist and client work together to challenge negative cognitions.

Person-Centered Therapy

Person Centered Therapy is a type of counselling that is humanistic in origin. It is a relational form of therapy where you are given the space and safety to discuss what has been distressing you. Person-Centered Counselling is based on the philosophy that individuals are full of potential for growth. It is believed that under certain conditions, all people are capable of being loving, imaginative and able to achieve. In counselling psychology practice, these conditions of empathy, support, non-judgement, authenticity and understanding are integral.