What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy can probably be defined, as an intentional interpersonal relationship in which psychophysioliogical problems are treated through communication and the use of a positive relationship were rapport is created and utilising strategic skills between an individual and a trained therapist.


The Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (PACFA) suggests:

“Definition of Counselling and Psychotherapy”:

Psychotherapy and Counselling are professional activities that utilise an interpersonal relationship to enable people to develop self understanding and to make changes in their lives. Professional counsellors and psychotherapists work within a clearly contracted, principled relationship that enables individuals to obtain assistance in exploring and resolving issues of an interpersonal, intrapsychic, or personal nature.

Professional Psychotherapy/Counselling:

  • Utilises Counselling, Psychotherapeutic, and Psychological theories, and a set of advanced interpersonal skills which emphasise processes of facilitation. Such processes are based on an ethos of respect for clients, their values, their beliefs, their uniqueness and the right to self-determination.
  • May involve work with current problems, immediate crisis, or long-term difficulties. Depending on the nature of the difficulties, the work may be short-term or long-term, and may involve working with an individual, a couple, a family or a group, and may occur in a variety of organisational contexts in the public or private sectors.
  • Regards the processes of self-monitoring, self-examination, self-awareness, self-development, professional development and on-going clinical supervision as central to effective practice. Such practices lead to enhanced capacity to utilise oneself in the therapeutic endeavor.



Distinction between Counselling AND Psychotherapy

Although Counselling and Psychotherapy overlap considerably, there are also recognised differences in terms of aims, approaches and training.

While the work with clients may be of considerable depth in both modalities, the focus of Counselling is more likely to be on specific problems or changes in life adjustment.

Psychotherapy is more concerned with the restructuring of the personality or self. At advanced levels of training, Counselling has a greater overlap with Psychotherapy than at foundation levels.”

Further distinctions regarding psychotherapy and counselling are offered in the Register Sections of the PACFA National Register.