I am a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling, past Chairman and Founding Trustee of the Impotence Association, a Senior Accredited BACP-Registered Independent Psychotherapist, a past Member of the British Association of Sexual and Marital Therapists and Past Member of the London Marriage Guidance Council. I have regularly worked with singles, couples and families and have specialised in marriage counselling, family crisis, sexual problems, divorce issues, existential concerns, depression, and the difficulties of creative people, performers and musicians, as well as those of high-flying business and banking personnel.
Contact begins with a two-way-assessment so that both sides are comfortable about working together. Goals (however long-term) are set as are regular review periods. I abide by the Ethical Framework and Code of Conduct of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
I was once asked to write to define the work of a therapist for a consumer magazine (“Woman’s Journal”) and said this: As a rule of thumb, if “part of your life” is a problem, see a counsellor. If the “whole of your life” is the problem, see a psychotherapist. Therapy is not the same thing as counselling although counselling is therapeutic. Counsellors usually work with a narrower focus than psychotherapists but not always. The BACP does not distinguish between the two but always refers to “accountable practitioners”.
Counselling, then, may resemble psychotherapy, employ a similar non-bossy approach and involve lying on a couch for a period of years. Or it may attempt to solve a specific problem face to face in a couple of chairs on a hot, sunny afternoon. These days, in a GP’s practice, it can lie at the cheaper, talk-can-fix-it end of the spectrum, resembling what you might hear on a radio phone-in. Such a “cognitive-behavioural” approach is well-nigh standard for sexual problems.