Frequently Asked QuestionsI've heard a lot about CBT, is the type of therapy important?
No, research suggests it is in fact the personal qualities of the therapist, as a person, together with the commitment of the client that really matter. However, most therapists, being loyal to the type of therapy they have trained and invested in, find this hard to accept. For this reason it is important to find the right therapist for you.
Does therapy work and how many sessions will I need?
Yes, it does work for the majority of clients, as evaluated by a reduction of symptoms like anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviors, drug dependency etc., Research suggests 6 – 20 sessions, after an initial meeting. Therapy over months rather than weeks enables a deeper understanding of the issues and for changes to be made with the support of a therapeutic relationship.
Clients who have long-term therapy tend to do better but 50% of clients do improve after 6 sessions (hence the NHS funding of 6 sessions in primary care). However, it is not clear that this improvement lasts. Regular reviews enable the work to stay focused on individuals needs and to deal with any problems arising between the therapist and client. These are important because, as research has concluded, it is the relationship which is the 'active ingredient' in talking therapies. The matching of goals between the client and the therapist is beneficial to outcome and client satisfaction.
What's the difference between psychotherapy and counselling?
Today there is little or no difference between psychotherapy and counselling, as they have converged into what are now regarded as talking therapies or psychological therapies. This has been reflected by the regulation of the profession and in recent years the BAC has become the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists). Both the BACP and UKCP have improved and standardised the requirements of training institutions. In the USA, someone without medical qualification cannot practice psychotherapy. Instead they have to practice counselling and call themselves a counsellor. In this country, counselling was traditionally of shorter duration and focused on particular problems and psychotherapy was for more serious problems and sessions lasted for many months, if not years.
If I'm on medication i.e. antidepressants etc., will I need to stop?
No and if your symptoms have been severe, you have probably been wise to start them as they do produce a faster initial response than psychological therapies alone. However, it is the long term use of them which can be problematic, especially when improvements on them do not last when they are stopped. Stopping them too can be difficult. Here I have some training in and experience of helping clients to come off medication. For more information see coming off
The answers to these questions are based upon research presented in Essential Research Findings in Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Facts are Friendly (Cooper, M. 2008 SAGE London)