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I understand that it can be a difficult decision to start the counselling process and finding the right Counsellor can be a rather daunting prospect. There are several choices of professionals involved in the counselling process as well as a series of different terms used to describe professionals who offer counselling.
The terms Counsellor and Psychotherapist can be used interchangeably and a practitioner using either of these titles is trained to work with you to provide professional counselling on psychological and emotional issues, helping you overcome your concerns.
The term Counsellor is not legally restricted in the UK so it is important that you check the credentials of the Counsellor. Look for individuals who are registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. The BACP is the main body in the UK representing counselling at national and international levels. The association aims to promote counselling and psychotherapy, and to raise standards of training and practice. It has stringent requirements for recognition by its’ professional members and all practitioners registered with them are covered by an Ethical Framework or Code of Conduct which includes a complaints procedure. The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, BABCP, is the lead organisation in the UK for accrediting CBT therapists.
Psychology examines the way people think, behave and interact. Looking at the way the mind works, psychology covers everyday functioning such as learning and remembering. It also covers more complex mental health conditions.
The term Psychologist means that the individual has a degree in Psychology; it does not in itself mean that the person is qualified to work in counselling. A Psychologist who works as a Counsellor may have a deeper understanding of the medical context and diagnosis of certain mental health problems as a result of their studies they will, however, need to have undertaken additional training specific to the counselling process in order be a member of the BACP.
Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders, including their diagnosis, management and prevention. A psychiatrist is someone who has studied medicine for five years to become a Doctor and who has subsequently undertaken further studies, typically another four years, to specialise in psychiatry.
Psychiatrists specialise in treating mental, emotional, or behavioural problems. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications and may also establish therapy sessions to treat the patient. Balanced Minds does not offer a Psychiatry service but would be happy to refer you to someone who could help.
Once you, or your GP have established which type of professional is the best to work with you to treat your problem it is essential that you find someone who has the appropriate training, qualifications and background. It is also very important to find a person who you feel comfortable talking to.