Psychotherapy is a way of understanding your experiences through conversation with a therapist, to reduce the distress you may be feeling, and to improve the quality of your life.
You might explore the links between the past and the present, taking the time to understand how issues in early life may still be affecting you. It is useful where you have had difficult experiences or relationships when growing up. You may have a sense that something is not right or you may have persistent feelings that are hard to deal with.
Counselling is appropriate where you are having difficulty dealing with a recent or current experience, such as pressures at work, problems in a relationship or loss. While the therapist may enquire about your history, the focus is likely to be on present experiences.
In both psychotherapy and counselling the therapist will work with you in a safe environment without judging you. Both client and therapist are actively engaged in shaping the processes of the therapy and you come together collaboratively, so that you can make the changes that you choose.
Humanistic psychotherapy emphasises a hopeful view of human beings and of their drive towards health and fulfillment. It believes that individuals are fundamentally responsible for themselves and, whilst recognising the distressing aspects of human existence, it believes in the ability of people to make positive changes.
How do I choose a therapist? Although therapists generally share a similar approach and attitude, there are differences in how they will understand and work with you. It is important to find a therapist who best meets what you are looking for and therapists will be happy for you to meet with different people before deciding who to work with.
The UKCP website (UK Council for Psychotherapy) has further information about different therapeutic approaches