I understand that you may have many questions about how the therapeutic process works. These are some of the most common questions I receive that I hope may be helpful to you.
What’s the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a counsellor and a therapist?
All of these practitioners have varying qualifications and scope of practice within the field of psychology and mental health.
- A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in psychiatry. They can both diagnose individuals as well as prescribe medication in accordance with conducting therapy.
- A psychologist on the other hand can diagnose and conduct therapy but cannot prescribe medication.
- A counsellor can neither diagnose nor prescribe medication but they are able identify relevant symptomology and refer on to a psychologist/psychiatrist as well as work with individuals who have received a mental diagnosis and require maintenance of this. Counsellors generally work with issues outside of pathology like relational issues, lifestyle changes, stress and self-esteem to name a few.
- A therapist is an interchangeable title often used to describe any of the above and often doesn’t accurately speak to someone’s scope of practice or training so is best to enquire further as to what kind of practitioner this is.
Please note that a practitioners’ title is largely dependent on where they trained and are practicing and these terms are not the same the world over.
Is online counselling as effective as face-to-face?
As is with all things, this is largely dependent on personal preference. However, with the onset of COVID-19, the option of seeing a therapist online has become commonplace and there are indeed, many benefits to this method of therapy.
The research that has been conducted on this topic however states that online therapy is indeed equally as effective as in-person therapy. The success of the therapeutic process has less to do with the mode in which it occurs and more to do with the quality of the therapist, the client-counsellor fit as well and client directedness and buy-in.
Some benefits to online counselling include:
- Fulfills social distancing requirements with the concern of COVID-19.
- Is time effective as it saves on travel time to and from a practice.
- Can often be more comfortable as you are in your own space.
- The therapeutic process doesn’t have to be interrupted by factors such as travel, lack of childcare and other commitments.
- Online therapy requires less effort to attend which is appealing to individuals battling intense fatigue either as a symptom of physical or mental illness.
How many sessions will I need?
Again, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this. This is largely dependent on the issue you find yourself battling with, your financial situation and your intended goals and outcomes of the process. However, most effective counselling takes a minimum of 4 to 8 sessions to see substantial change. Other factors that impact this include but are not limited to the frequency of sessions, as well as the ‘external therapy’ that takes place in between sessions.