Kind of Counselling For Me?
by Bill Campbell,B.A.,B.Ed,M.EdmCRT,
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people have difficulty distinguishing amongst a variety of terms
used in the helping professions. The professionals themselves
have not helped in this confusion because we frequently use the
same terms interchangeably without any clear identifiable differences.
Some of these terms include: counselling, therapy, social work,
psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and psychiatry.
can lay people understand this terminology in terms of what they
may choose as a preferred format for assistance with their issues?
To simplify this process, let us group counselling, therapy, and
psychotherapy together. There are nuances of differences in these
terms but generally they refer to professionals helping individuals
cope with life events which have produced emotional and mental
distress (physiological consequences are also commonly linked
to emotional and mental problems).
all three terms can frequently be used interchangeably, psychotherapy
often refers to more serious inner emotional problems that may
require a significant period of time to help clients basically
restructure their personality.
Psychology is the study of human behaviour. Psychologists have
moved primarily from the "Arts" discipline to the "Science"
discipline probably because a great deal of human behaviour can
be objectively classified versus subjectively analyzed. As such,
psychologists specialize in explained behaviour for their clients.
Counselling Psychologists as well as counsellors, tend to emphasize
a client's strengths and potential to change rather than using
a diagnostic, pathological model more appropriate to social work,
pure psychology and psychiatry.
Social workers are individuals trained in the field of societal
and environmental influences on behaviour. They study, research
and analyze social influences on behaviour. Their counselling
is often family oriented since the family is the primary building
block of society.
Psychoanalysis is the term which originally came into being from
Sigmund Freud who explained human behaviour from the primary aspect
of the unconscious. Although psychoanalysis has gone beyond the
boundaries of Freud, it is still used to signify the exploration
of the unconscious, including dreams in order to offer clients
a conscious explanation and understanding for their behavior.
Psychiatry includes the areas of psychoanalysis. However, psychiatrists
are also Medical Doctors before specializing in the field of psychiatry.
As such, psychiatrists can prescribe medications to help clients
deal with what are usually more severe mental and emotional issues
such as neuroses and psychoses. Psychoses refers to major mental
disorders where the personality is severely affected. Those disorders
can be organic (ie.,genetic, disease, injury) or functional (e.g.
schizophrenia or manic depression.) Neuroses refers to mental
disorders characterized by anxiety, compulsion, phobias and depression.
all the fields the word "Clinical" is frequently used
as an adjunct to seemingly add a more professional overtone to
the original term. The word "Clinical" has come to signify
a more scientific approach given to direct experiment, observation
and testing in some controlled fashion. This approach is commonly
used to more scientifically analyze a problem and prescribe or
help clients create new methods to achieve their therapeutic goals.
these classifications may seem to distinguish many of these dichotomous
terms, the reality of the helping field, especially in more limited
areas such as P.E.I., is that, except for psychiatrists who can
prescribe medications, many of the same duties are being preformed
by the majority of the professionals in the helping field. Due
to limited access to the more specifically trained professionals,
many of us have by necessity had to learn to deal with more serious
issues than we had originally been trained for or expected to
perform. This fact requires that professionals ethically need
to disclose to their clients the limitations of their training
and experience so that the clients themselves can make informed
decisions regarding professional assistance.
The thoughts expressed here are the opinion of the author and
not necessarily those of the professions mentioned.
Campbell, B.A., B.Ed, M.Ed, CRT, CGC, CCC., is a professional
counsellor and counsellor-trainer in Summerside and Charlottetown
. He can be reached at 902-436-3545.
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