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(01) 856 1289


Brighton House, 29 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

We are frequently asked to explain the difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy. Some say there is no difference and the words are often used interchangeably in everyday conversations. We believe there is a clear distinction. We see them at two distinct ends of the one spectrum with a large common area of overlap. Both are talking therapies and involve being listened to with respect and without judgement. Both offer an opportunity to explore the positive and negative aspects of our lives.

Counselling focuses on current crises that are causing us emotional anguish, preventing us from functioning as well as we would like in our lives. Events such as the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a death, an accident or ill health can be the trigger for us to require some space to manage the emotional consequences. Support and understanding can help us cope with the emotional turmoil, normalise our reactions and regain our confidence and ability to function well again in our lives. This process is usually short-term and takes between 6 to 20 sessions.

Psychotherapy offers support for the emotional turmoil caused by events as mentioned above but it also focuses on uncovering – and helping people to change – the unconscious patterns of behaviour developed in childhood. These behavioural patterns enabled the survival of the individual by helping them cope with the stresses and strains with which they were faced. Unless we learn to change these patterns to fit more adult situations, we end up reacting in the same way to our adult problems as we did to our childhood ones. Since these patterns were developed in our childhood and we have relied on them into adulthood they have become so habitual that we often mistake our behavioural patterns for our personality. We believe they are ‘who I am’.

Psychotherapy can identify the defences we are holding onto from our childhood and help dismantle them through processing the emotional hurt they have been protecting us from. Over time, the process enables us to replace them with more flexible, spontaneous defences appropriate to adulthood. For this reason, the psychotherapeutic process may take a longer time to be effective.