About Counselling

A History Of Counselling

In order to properly understand the history of counselling, it’s important to realise that over the years, human beings have found comfort in sharing their problems and telling their story to others. The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ tells us one prevalent truth; when things get difficult or we have to make tough decisions in our life, it sometimes help to speak to someone to get a better idea of our options.

Counselling theories were being developed during the beginning of the 20th century, however, it’s thought that the roots of counselling originated a very long time before this. Counselling history can be traced all the way back to tribal times, where groups of people would come together and share various experiences and even dreams that they’ve had. As civilisation advanced, religion also offered a type of counselling, usually by priests who would listen to people’s experiences and problems and offer advice to parishioners (this still happens today).

What Is Counselling?

Counselling is a type of talking therapy which allows an individual to talk about their problems, feelings and memories in a confidential and trustworthy environment. A counsellor is highly trained to listen with empathy by putting themselves in your shoes. Counselling can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings that you may have. Sometimes, the term ‘counselling’ is used to refer to talking therapies in general, but counselling is also a therapy in its own right.

What Is Counselling Used For?

Counselling is a talking therapy which can be used to help individuals with a wide variety of mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Various Long Term Illnesses
  • Eating Disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia
  • Drug Misuse

How Can Counselling Help?

Counselling can help you to overcome a wide range of issues that are causing you emotional pain or making you feel uncomfortable, as well as the conditions mentioned above.

It can provide you with a safe and regular space for you to both talk about and explore difficult feelings. The counsellor is there to support you and respect your views, which will also make you feel comfortable when talking about your problems. Counsellors won’t usually give you advice, but counselling will provide you with insight into your problems and further help you to understand them.

After talking about difficult or painful feelings, you may feel worse in some way. However, with the help and support of your counsellor, you should start to feel better gradually. In a lot of cases, it takes a number of counselling sessions before you start to feel a difference, and a regular commitment is needed in order to make the best use of your therapy.

Who Can Provide Counselling?

Due to the fact that counselling involves talking about sensitive issues and sometimes revealing personal thoughts, your counsellor should be experienced, professional and qualified.

Different healthcare professionals that have been trained in counselling or are qualified to provide psychological therapies may include:

  • Counsellors – Counsellors are trained to provide counselling which helps you cope better with your life and any issues that you may have.
  • Psychiatrists – Qualified medical doctors who have received further training in diagnosing and treating various mental health conditions.
  • Clinical Psychologists – Healthcare professionals who specialise in assessing and treating mental health conditions using evidence-based psychological therapies.
  • Psychotherapists – Similar to counsellors, they’ve usually received more extensive training and are often also qualified applied psychologists or psychiatrists.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists – Can come from a variety of professional backgrounds and have received extensive training in cognitive behaviour therapy. Should be registered and accredited with the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who developed a counselling theory later called psychoanalysis, which allowed people to tell their problems to a psychoanalyst, an individual who is trained in interpreting the subconscious. Sigmund Freud played a very important part in the history of counselling, although the actual word ‘counselling’ didn’t breakthrough into everyday language until the 1960’s.

During the late 1800’s, Sigmund Freud began studying with a neurologist named Jean-Martin Charcot. Charcot used hypnosis to treat women suffering from something which was called ‘hysteria’ at the time. He found that talking to his patients about traumatic experiences that they’ve experienced, their symptoms lessened significantly. Freud continued his work apart from Charcot, and he went on to develop his own method of counselling called talk therapy. In his work, he established various therapeutic techniques such as free association, dream analysis and transference, many of which still remain central to psychoanalysis today.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is also known as psychodynamic counselling, and it is a therapeutic approach that embraces the work of all analytic therapies. Its roots lie mostly in Freud’s psychoanalysis approach, although Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank and Melanie Klein are all recognised for further developing both the concept and application of psychodynamics.

The aim of psychodynamic counselling is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness, which helps people to unravel, experience and understand their deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them. It follows the view that our unconscious mind holds onto hurtful memories and feelings, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. Although it shares the same principles as psychoanalysis, psychodynamic counselling is usually far less intense, focusing more on immediate problems and attempting to find a quick solution. However, it does tend to provide the same benefits, helping people with a wide array of psychological disorders to make significant changes to how they make decisions and interact with others.

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