It can be a bit tricky getting your head around the differences between counselling, CBT and psychotherapy.


Here is a quick and simple run down of the main points.


  • CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapies.  Cognition is just a fancy word for thought.  And behavioural is in the term, because its all about how your thinking impacts your behaviours.  This is important, because whilst your thoughts can be a source of laughter, creativity and connection, they can also take you to dark places.  The way one thinks is instrumental to the process of suffering or its opposite; well-being.


  • Counselling does pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling as well.  The big difference is that CBT teaches you specific strategies and techniques that are chosen depending on the nature of your difficulty.  When a CBT therapists meets you for a consultation, they complete an assessment and start to develop something called a formulation.  This formulation describes what you are struggling with, why it started and what is keeping it going. This is different to a diagnosis, more commonly used in physical health.  The 'big-benefit' of CBT is that it you can learn techniques that are going to be more effective, because they come from a very individual account of your difficulties. They are chosen to suit you rather than you and your problem being made to fit a general and broad category that doesn't recognise how you and Mr Banks down the road are different.  


  • Psychotherapy is a broad term used to cover a number of different approaches.  Counselling is based on specific relationship and conversational skills, but doesn't has what is called a 'model'.  A model is made up of a theory of human beings, their minds and their behaviour.  This theory then contains various methods to help people make changes in their lives.  All psychotherapy models use 'formulations' to help a person, which is one of their strengths. However, some therapies have been shown to be effective than others for certain types of problem.