Are forms of therapy in which the client and the therapist spend time together on a regular basis, looking at any issues which the client wishes to talk about concerning him/herself. The therapist will not reveal what is said during the meetings to any other parties, other than their supervisor (please see Q 4 below).
The therapist and client do not have any dealings with each other apart from these meetings, which means the therapist should not know the client or close relatives or friends of the client socially or in any other way.
The therapist does not touch the client or prescribe drugs or direct the client in any way, by giving advice etc.
All psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapists must have been in their own therapy for several years, at the same frequency of sessions at which they are working with clients. If you are thinking of working with someone, ask him or her to confirm how long and how often he or she had therapy and how you can check this with their training body or accrediting body. This is the most important element in the training of a psychodynamic therapist. Only by having worked with and in our own mind processes can we safely and ethically offer to accompany another. It is dangerous for any therapist who has not had his or her own therapy to work with other people because he or she will have had no opportunity to understand his or her own issues, in particular the wish for power over another or the wish to force change.
What are the differences between counselling & psychotherapy?
Counselling is a process in which the client discusses his/her problems with an unbiased listener, who will try to understand the client’s point of view and to feedback to the client how he or she is coming across to the listener, so that the client can gain a wider view of him or herself. This is a supportive process and can be short or long term once a week. Clients often find that the chance to talk in confidence about their feelings reduces anxiety and raises self esteem and mood.
Psychotherapy takes this process further by looking at the past as well as the present and the therapist will be listening to the client with a view to making links between the past and the present, particularly with reference to experiences of loss or trauma very early in life. Clients are usually expected to attend for at least a year, often attending more than once a week for a period of time. People can find new and more positive ways of being during and after this form of therapy, often dealing with long-standing emotional difficulties. Dependant upon the duration and depth of exploration this process can lead to significant emotional and behavioural change for clients.
Counsellors are usually referred to as ‘counsellor’, and psychotherapists as ‘psychotherapist’ or ‘therapist’ but for the purpose of this question & answer fact sheet they are both referred to as therapist.
An accredited counsellor (i.e. a counsellor who has completed an accredited training course and worked further hours to obtain BACP accreditation) will see clients only once a week.
An accredited psychotherapist will see clients up to three times a week.
The answer to this questions lies entirely with the client. People have different aims and these aims sometimes change so that they continue therapy for longer than they originally expect. Quite simply the greater and deeper the change you are hoping for, the longer it will take. Before therapy, most people are very unrealistic about the enormous difficulties of changing and the patience and trust which is required to make it possible. Commitment and belief in the process are crucial for significant changes to be possible. There is no such thing as a quick fix and if any therapist promises you this, then be aware.
A psychodynamic therapist regards this work as confidential to him/herself, other than discussion in supervision when the client’s identity is not revealed.
The therapist will only disclose information about the client to another professional, (e.g., GP), if the client is talking about fear of uncontrollable suicidal wishes or acts, or is talking about activities which are harming or would harm another person e.g., the abuse of a child or active preparations for the harm of another adult.
The therapist is expected to make every effort to support the client in disclosing such issues to the appropriate professional him or herself and, should this not be possible, will discuss with and inform the client if such disclosure by the therapist is unavoidable.
There is a real difference between thinking/feeling and acting and it is only in the case of the possibility of action that disclosure needs to be discussed.
Psychodynamic therapy is useful for a range of problems, problems of behaviour, such as eating disorders, drug/alcohol abuse; problems with feelings, such as anxiety, excessive anger, lack of confidence etc., and problems from the past, such as abuse in childhood or the loss of a parent or other family member during childhood.
People who wish to understand why they behave or feel in certain ways and who wish to change themselves, find that the process of learning about themselves, through talking with a psychodynamic therapist, can bring about such change.
Anyone who works psychodynamically with people should have had an extensive personal therapy, so that clients are protected from the possibility that the therapist has unconscious desires to control or manipulate the client. They should be in supervision and must continue their professional development with regular attendance at professional seminars/workshops etc.
A reputable therapist will be willing to provide details of training, registration and length/type of experience and will tell the client which professional body he/she belongs to, so that, should the client have a complaint, he/she can contact the relevant organisation.
Supervision is a process of ongoing professional development, in which the therapist regularly consults a senior colleague or a group of peer colleagues. All therapists should be in regular supervision while they are working. Clients are not identified by name or personal details in supervision, so as to protect anonymity and confidentiality. The purpose of supervision is to support the therapist and protect the client.
What are the terms and conditions under which psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapists work?
Therapists make an agreement to keep a certain time or times free for the client every week except for weeks when the therapist is on holiday or there is an emergency such as the therapist becoming ill. A month’s notice of the ending of therapy is usually expected on both sides.
Some clients prefer to make a contract for a certain length of time, to be reviewed near the end. It is usual to charge clients for missed sessions including the client’s holidays, if the client cannot attend when the therapist is working.
Therapists are expected to give clients reasonable (i.e., more than two months) notice of their own holidays so that clients can make any arrangements they wish.
The emphasis, in this arrangement, is on the reliability of the therapist, who will do all that is humanly possible to be consistently available to the client at the agreed times.
Therapists are expected to give clients a clear explanation of the terms and conditions under which they work.
The level of fees depends upon the therapist’s experience and qualifications. A newly qualified counsellor will charge less than an experienced psychotherapist. Psychotherapists may reduce their normal session fee for clients undertaking more than one session a week.
Most therapists suggest that the first step is to meet and talk with the therapist with no obligation to continue, so that both can make a judgement about the usefulness of this type of therapy for the client. This meeting is often longer than an hour and the fee will be slightly higher than the normal fee.