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About Counselling

So many terms. Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Counselling, Therapy, Talk-Therapy. Let's break it down.

All of these terms refer to the family of options available regarding the treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural problems. Some of these require formal diagnosis and medicated solutions, but counselling is more likely to refer to short-term, talk-based therapy, focusing on helping people find solutions to current issues.

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A more detailed breakdown

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in mental health. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems, provide formal diagnoses and offer medically prescribed solutions. As a medical doctor, they are the only people who can provide medically prescribed  solutions, typically anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, sleep medication and stimulants to treat ADHD. Other medications such as mood stabilisers and anti-psychotics can be used to treat serious conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Psychiatrists also offer talk-based therapy, or they may partner with a therapist or counsellor to offer this service.

Psychotherapy, sometimes just called therapy or talk-therapy, is a treatment that involves a talking relationship between a therapist and a client. It can be used to treat a broad variety of mental, emotional and behavioural issues. The goal of psychotherapy is to reduce or eliminate disabling or debilitating symptoms to enable to client to have a higher level of functioning. Treatment can last from as little as a few sessions or may involves regular sessions over a number of years.

Counselling vs Therapy vs Talk-Therapy vs Psychotherapy.

Broadly speaking, these terms can be used somewhat interchangeably. They all refer to verbal interactions with a trained therapist. However, psychotherapy is typically a more in-depth, longer term process that focuses more on the feelings and past experiences of the client, with personal growth a typical goal. Counselling, meanwhile is more likely to refer to short-term talk-therapy, focusing on helping a person find solutions to current issues. The most common issues that clients normally talk to a therapist about are related to stress, anxiety and depression, although severe cases may need medical intervention and a referral to a medical professional.

A psychologist usually has advanced training in clinical psychology, which normally involves research and clinical practice. Given this specific level of training, a clinical psychologist is able to offer formal diagnoses for a variety of mental health conditions. They are not able to prescribe medicated solutions, typically providing psychotherapy services, and some specialise in psychological testing and evaluation.

The following links might be helpful.

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