Although in many ways similar to psychotherapy, counseling is often a shorter term treatment which tends to deal with more recent and often quite specific difficulties. It does not aim to change the patient as a person, but rather helps him or her to better understand problems and so come up with solutions. It is often the best course of treatment for those who generally experience relatively high feelings of well-being and are normally able to resolve problems on their own. In the course of either individual or group counseling sessions, patients and counselors work together to explore aspects of the patients’ lives and feelings and find solutions, mainly by concentrating on patterns of behavior.
The counselor does not make any judgment of patients’ behavior but, based on his experience, offers suggestions and advice, which lead to the resolution of particular difficulties. The guidance which is offered often allows problems to be viewed from a different perspective, so enabling patients to move on and take charge of a particular area of their lives. Whilst counseling sessions are ongoing, they have the opportunity to try out new patterns of behavior in the real world environment and make adjustments as necessary, and the sessions themselves would normally come to an end once patients have reached their goals or found solutions to their problems.
When might counseling help? Although counseling is sometimes used as part of a wider program of psychotherapeutic treatment, in cases involving specific, shorter term problems it is sufficient and highly effective as a standalone treatment. Relationship issues are typically treated through counseling sessions, which enable a better understanding of how the patient interacts and communicate, and seek to find more effective ways of doing so. In some cases involving co-dependency issues, anger management issues, problems relating to bereavement or those which prove to be connected to self-esteem issues, such as workaholics, it does become apparent that the root cause of the distress lies in the patient’s past and requires more extensive psychotherapeutic support. Should this be the case, your counselor will discuss further options with you.
As with psychotherapy, counseling may be carried out in individual sessions or as part of those which involve others. Dependent upon the circumstances of your specific case, the counselor will discuss the most beneficial options with you in order to decide on the most appropriate and beneficial way forward