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Welcome to blog 8 of 2022. With each blog, we focus on a topical theme of counselling therapy, which I hope will inform you in your decision to seek therapy or to become a therapist.


So you're experiencing some difficulty and thinking of seeking counselling. For several reasons, you prefer the idea of an independent practitioner. But how do you know what kind of help to seek? Or perhaps you're considering a career in mental health and are curious about the roles of practitioners. Then take a look at these definitions.





Counsellors offer guidance on specific personal or mental health problems. In the UK, a counsellor may have psychological training and may hold a certificate, diploma, degree, post-graduate diploma or masters in counselling and/or specific modalities. Professional training may take three to five years, excluding continuing professional development.


Psychotherapists treat personal or mental health conditions that may be specific or complex. To do this, they may draw on more than one modality. In the UK, a psychotherapist may hold a certificate, degree, post-graduate diploma masters or doctorate in counselling and psychotherapy. Professional training may take four to five years, excluding continuing professional development.


Clinical Psychologists are trained in a medical setting, in a range of modalities, to reduce physical and psychological distress and promote wellbeing. In the UK, a clinical psychologist will hold a doctorate in clinical psychology. Training may take six to seven years


Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental health problems and illnesses. Treatment may include prescribed medication. In the UK, psychiatrists are required to complete a medical degree before training in psychiatry. Training may take up to 14 years.



Access to treatment

Your GP or hospital may refer you to a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, or recommend counselling. You can arrange to see a practitioner privately. A psychiatrist may refer a client to a patient psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor as part of their treatment.


It's not all in the name

There is an ongoing debate about the distinction between counselling and psychotherapy in the UK. Some view psychotherapy as a longer-term, more 'in-depth' treatment, which may involve a combination of techniques. Psychotherapists are often viewed as experienced practitioners with advanced qualifications.


However, a practitioner identifying as a counsellor or psychotherapeutic counsellor may practice psychotherapy, and vice versa. It's also possible for a counsellor and psychotherapist to have similar experience and qualifications. Therefore, the definitions of counsellor and psychotherapist given above may be viewed flexibly.



A professional approach

This is because, unlike psychology and psychiatry, counselling and psychotherapy in the UK is not regulated by a government agency*. However, many therapists are members of regulatory professional bodies, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (NCPS). As members, therapists are required to adhere to a professional code of conduct, which includes ethical practice, training and development.



I hope this information goes some way to identifying the kind of support you need. Remember: when seeking a counsellor or psychotherapist, if a practitioner does not have all the information you require in their profile or on their website, get in touch and ask - whether it's about modality, experience and qualifications or membership of a professional body.


Please note that professional roles in mental health are not limited to those listed above.


* Practitioners are required to operate within the law.


Images: Anna Shvet; Alex Green



You may find the following links useful:








Welcome to blog 7 of 2022. With each blog, we focus on a topical theme of counselling therapy, which I hope will inform you in your decision to seek therapy or to become a therapist.


Statistics suggest that there has been an increase in the number of people accessing counselling over the last decade. Yet counselling and psychotherapy remain shrouded in mystery, and mental health is still stigmatised. Many people accessing counselling for the first time have little to no awareness of what counselling involves.













Due to the importance of client confidentiality, sharing what happens in the counselling room is limited. More people are voicing their experiences of counselling through media campaigns promoting the pros and cons of therapy. TV dramas centred around a therapist make popular viewing. With client consent, celebrity therapists are inviting radio and TV into their counselling rooms to observe their practice.


So we're being offered more information about the process of therapy. Yet, whilst it may feel okay to be privy to the ins and outs of a neighbour's recent knee operation, we don't anticipate hearing the highs and lows of their recent counselling session. Unless you're a therapist, asking someone about their counselling experience is still pretty much taboo. How, then, do we learn more?

If you've seen a counsellor or are currently in therapy, you may have wondered what a day in the life of your counsellor can look like.

If you've seen a counsellor or are currently in therapy, you may have wondered what a day in the life of your therapist can look like. How do they begin their day? What's their routine? How many clients do they see? What records do they keep? Fact is, without asking directly, getting the full picture is tricky. But here's where this blog can help.













Not all practitioners work 9 to 5. Many work part-time or have two or more areas of work. There may be some differences in the day-to-day routine of therapists working in the public health sector, as opposed to the charitable sector or counsellors in private practice. This may affect the number of clients a therapist will see in a day and the availability of flexible hours.


For many therapists there is a lot of work that happens outside of the therapy and behind the scenes. Generally speaking, a counsellor's daily routine will consist of admin, consultations, assessments, client contact, record-keeping (not all counsellors keep client notes), some referrals, online and in-person meetings, and research.

Therapists do have commitments outside of the therapy room, including regular one-to-one supervision and/or peer supervision, plus a commitment to continuing professional development.

A therapist will have commitments outside of the counselling room, including regular one-to-one supervision and/or peer supervision, plus a commitment to continuing professional development. This is stipulated during training and required of therapists for membership to a professional body.

Many counsellors consider therapy as essential to their own development, both personal and professional, and so continue to engage in personal therapy post qualification.

Not all therapists are required to engage in one-to-one and/or group therapy prior to and/or during their training. However, many counsellors and counselling training organisations consider therapy as essential to both personal and professional development. Many counsellors continue to engage in personal therapy post qualification. Note that it is possible for counsellors to practice without ever having been in therapy.


Counsellors who view working therapeutically as a vocation recognise that what happens in the therapy room is connected to the world at large. Consequently, they tend to dedicate time outside of the therapy room to supporting relevant causes, to training and research.

A commitment to self-care and personal development is necessary for the survival of a therapist. Due to the nature of their work, a degree of fortitude and resilience is required.


A commitment to self-care and personal development is necessary for the survival of a therapist. Due to the nature of counselling work, a degree of fortitude and resilience is required. Being witness to intense and emotive runs the risk of vicarious trauma (an empathic response to the distress, pain and suffering of others) and burnout. Therefore, it is important that therapists have the resources to sustain themselves and adequate means of support. By practising self care, a counsellor can also be a role model for their clients.


You may feel that knowing something of your counsellor's identity and history could help build a connection. However, depending on modality and personal style, some counsellors are careful to limit disclosure of their personal lives. Not just to preserve their privacy, but to avoid any distraction from the focus of the therapeutic work - namely, you.



You may find the following links to articles and videos useful:


People seeking help: statistics


Therapy Talks: an introduction to therapy


Annual number of therapy professionals in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2010 to 2021


The Monday Interview:" So, what it really like working as a... counsellor?"


My World of Work: Counsellor


Dr Ali Matu: What I wish I knew before I became a psychotherapist


Dr Orna Guralnik: Couples Therapy


Susie Orbach: In Therapy









  • Writer's picturemarypascallcounselling

Welcome to blog 6 of 2022. Each month we focus on a topical theme of counselling therapy, which I hope will help you in your decision to seek therapy and support you on your journey.



In order to maintain healthy relationships

it's important

to establish boundaries.

But what does this mean and what do boundaries

look like?



Well, consider the following definition: a boundary indicates the limitations of a space; there is a clear demarcation that differentiates one space from another. That demarcation reserves and protects a space, and may indicate ownership.

Personal boundaries encompass your beliefs, culture, feelings,

levels of intimacy, ownership of an area or belongings, personal space, sexuality,

your time, energy and commitment, and thought processes.


In your relationships your boundaries may vary according to the nature of a relationship or due to changes in circumstance. For example: you may be willing to share personal possessions with a partner but not with a colleague; be happy to have friends drop by unannounced, but not when you are feeling unwell.


So that's what boundaries are but what difference can they make to your relationships and how do you introduce them?



Establishing boundaries in your relationships is a healthy way to address your needs and the needs of others.


For your well-being, it is important that your physical and emotional needs are met. Establishing boundaries in your relationships is a healthy way to address your needs and the needs of others. Setting boundaries for yourself and within your relationships is part of self-care.


In order to establish and maintain boundaries in relationships some key element are required: mutual respect, communication, autonomy, acceptance and resilience.


If any of these are in short supply you may experience difficulties within your relationships. Communication is key; lack of communication will lead to misunderstanding and frustrations within a relationship.


Establishing appropriate boundaries within a relationship will encourage mutual respect and acceptance which, in turn, boost self-esteem and personal growth, and help to promote harmony.


When you set and acknowledge boundaries within your family, with a partner, within a friendship or with a colleague, you are inviting respect and acceptance of your identity.



Establishing boundaries within a relationship will encourage mutual respect and acceptance which, in turn, boost self-esteem and personal growth, and help promote harmony. That said, identifying which boundaries work for you can be a bit of a process. By reflecting on your relationships, you can identify what kind of boundaries may be helpful. In addition to your needs, consider your capacity to accept the needs and desires of others. What are your expectations of others and what do you feel able to offer?




As we move through life relationships and boundaries can change. If not addressed changes may present challenges that can lead to discord.

t's also important to remember that as we move through life relationships and boundaries can change. If not addressed changes may present challenges that can lead to discord. So it's important to be attentive. Boundaries require maintenance.


A counsellor can help you work through relationship challenges and support you in setting appropriate boundaries, through one-to-one, counselling, relationship, family, peer or group counselling.




For information on how to find a counsellor go to:






You may also be interested in:








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