Counselling and Psychotherapy
How Can Counselling or Psychotherapy Help Me?
Counselling and psychotherapy can help you deal with issues that are getting in the way of living your life the way you want to. For example, experiencing anxiety symptoms that are holding you back from joining an activity you want to do, or feelings of depression that are making it hard to enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones or friends. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you reflect and learn how to develop skills that you need to live your life on your own terms.
What's the Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy?
There is a lot of overlap between counselling and psychotherapy. They are both kinds of talk therapy and our therapists use both approaches (as appropriate) in their practices.
Aside from the legal definitions described in the section below, there are some differences in approach.
- Psychotherapy tends to focus on gaining insight into the presenting problems. It sometimes has a heavier focus on exploring the client’s thought processes. It is more focused on longer-term solutions for recurring problems.
- Counselling, on the other hand, is often considered to be a shorter-term treatment with a wellness focus. It is more focused on specific solutions to a problem that is presenting in the moment.
Counselling, Psychotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Psychiatry... Who Does What?
There are so many different terms for professionals who support mental health. It can be very confusing! Here’s a quick explainer.
Psychotherapy is a regulated term for talk therapy. That means that, legally, only certain professionals with specific training are able to say they do it. The term counselling, however, is NOT regulated, meaning that anyone can say they are a counsellor, regardless of their training.
In Ontario, psychotherapy can be practised by six different regulated professions; psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry, nursing, social work, and occupational therapy. Each regulatory college has specific training and educational guidelines for what the professional has to do to practise as a psychotherapist.
Occupational therapists (OTs), social workers (SWs) and nursing (RNs) professionals also provide other kinds of health care and therapy, meaning that not all OTs, RNs and SWs are able to practise psychotherapy. This can make it very confusing to know who you need!
With so many different professions that would potentially be able to provide psychotherapy, and so many other non-regulated professions that can provide counselling without the extra psychotherapy education, how do you know where to go for help?
Here’s a quick breakdown that is most pertinent to our practice at Renew:
- Psychiatrist: diagnoses, prescribes medication, provides psychotherapy
- Psychologist: diagnoses, provides psychotherapy
- Psychotherapist: provides psychotherapy, often with a self-exploration/self-discovery focus
- Occupational therapy: provides psychotherapy (among other things), often with a focus on behavioural change
As you can see, at Renew, our psychotherapists and occupational therapists both practice psychotherapy, but there are some differences in their approach. Although there is quite a bit of overlap, a psychotherapist will generally use psychotherapy to help you with self-exploration and the development of a stronger sense of self. An occupational therapist using psychotherapy will generally help you use it to improve your daily function and promote functional, behavioural change.