What is counselling and psychotherapy?

Counselling and psychotherapy refers to the process by which people share, explore, and resolve difficult issues in their lives, supported by the knowledge, skilfulness, and presence of a trained professional.

Traditionally, ‘counselling’ has referred to a shorter term process that focuses more on distinct life problems and issues, whereas psychotherapy has focussed more on working with longer-term life patterns and on building a stronger, core ‘sense of self’.

In practice, however, many counsellors work with a person’s deeper issues and patterns, and many psychotherapists are also trained to work in a short-term, issue-specific manner.

Above all, it is the client’s preferences, desires, and needs that determine the approach a counsellor or psychotherapist takes with each specific person. For some specific issues – such as working with trauma, or mind-body issues – and for some particular client groups – such as children, youth, and couples – it will be important to engage with a counsellor or psychotherapist who has special training in the relevant area. Click here to see our therapeutic services.

Both counselling and psychotherapy assume that the quality of our relationships (both in the past and the present) profoundly affect our emotional and psychological well-being. In the past they may contribute to less healthy patterns of self-feeling, esteem, identity, and relationships. A supportive therapeutic relationship now can help us gain insight and resources to change these outcomes.

We know that the most successful outcomes in counselling and psychotherapy are where a strong, honest, open, well-matched ‘therapeutic relationship’ develops between client and therapist. This creates a secure ground for sensitive issues to be safely voiced and explored, and for new ways of coping and being to be developed and integrated within a person’s life.

If you are considering counselling and psychotherapy for yourself or someone you know, it is important to consider what therapist might be a good match for you. For example, will their gender be important? Will you feel more comfortable with a man or a woman? How experienced is the therapist? It can sometimes be helpful to have a brief conversation on the phone first, to explore issues of ‘match’ a bit more. If you are interested in counselling and psychotherapy, but unsure who might be a good ‘match’ for you, click here to leave a message for us and someone from the Arahura Centre will get in contact with you to discuss your preferences and needs.

For more information about psychotherapy, see


For more information on what counselling and psychotherapy generally, see:


Does therapy work?

“Combining findings from a wide range of controlled trials, meta-analytic studies have shown that, on average, counselling and psychotherapy has a large positive effect – greater, indeed, than the average surgical or medical procedure. Put more precisely, research shows that approximately 80 per cent of people will do better after therapy than the average person who has not had therapy.” (Cooper, 2014).

“In terms of general effectiveness, what we also know from the research evidence is that:

  • improvements in mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety) tend to be maintained at least one or two years after therapy has ended;
  • talking therapies are generally as effective as pharmacological treatments for psychological distress, and seem to have lower relapse and drop-out rates;
  • counselling and psychotherapy are relatively cost-effective forms of mental health treatment – particularly for more psychologically distressed individuals – with an economic advantage above and beyond their contribution to psychological health and wellbeing…”. (Cooper, 2014).

Further information:
Mick Cooper, (2014), “The facts are friendly”. Retrieved, 13 November 2014, from www.therapytoday.net.
Mick Cooper, Essential research Findings in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2008). London: Sage.