What is Counselling? 

The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) offers the following definition of counselling:

"Counselling takes place when a counsellor sees a client in a private and confidential setting to explore the difficulty the client is having, distress they may be experiencing or perhaps their dissatisfaction with life,  or loss of sense of direction and purpose. It is always at the request of the client and no one can properly be "sent" for counselling.

By listening attentively and patiently the counsellor can begin to perceive the difficulties from the client's point of view and can help them to see things more clearly, possibly from a different prospective. Counselling is a way of enabling choice or change or of reducing confusion. It does not involve giving advice or directing a client to take a particular course of action. Counsellors do not judge or exploit their clients in any way. 

In the counselling session the client can explore various aspects of their life and feelings, talking about them freely and openly in a way that is rarely possible with friends or family.  Bottled up feelings such as anger, anxiety, grief and embarrassment can become very intense and counselling offers an opportunity to explore them, with the possibility of making them easier to understand. The counsellor will encourage the expression of feelings and as a result of their training will be able to accept and reflect the client's problems without being burdened by them.

Acceptance and respect for the client are essentials for a counsellor and, as the relationship develops, so too does trust between the counsellor and client, enabling the client to look at many aspects of their life, their relationships and themselves which they may not have considered or been able to face before. The counsellor may help the client to examine in detail  the behavior or situations which are proving troublesome and to find an area where  it would be possible to initiate some change as a start. The counsellor may help the client to look at the options open to them and help them to decide the best for them". 

What is the difference between psychological counselling and psychotherapy?

Since there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the use of these terms, again I will quote  from the definition offered by the BACP: 

"It is not possible to make a generally accepted distinction between counselling and psychotherapy. There are well founded traditions which use the terms interchangeably and others which distinguish between them. If there are differences, they relate more to the individual psychotherapist's or counsellor's training and interests and to the setting in which they work, rather than to any intrinsic differences between the two activities. 

A psychotherapist working in a hospital is likely to be more concerned with severe psychological disorders than the wider range of problems about which it is appropriate to consult a counsellor. In private practice, however, a psychotherapist is more likely to accept clients whose need is less severe. Similarly, in private practice a counsellor's work will overlap with that of a psychotherapist. Those counsellors, however, who work for voluntary agencies or in educational settings such as schools and colleges usually concentrate more on "everyday" problems and difficulties of life than on the more severe psychological disorders. Many are qualified to offer therapeutic work which in any other context would be called psychotherapy". 

Are counselling and therapy the same as psychoanalysis? Do I have to lie on a couch? 

The incorrect and often comical representation of therapy, counselling, and psychoanalysis in art and the media adds to the confusion in the way the public imagines these procedures.  

Classical psychoanalysis, which goes back to Sigmund Freud, is conducted by trained candidates and graduates of special psychoanalytic institutes. Psychoanalysis is a long-term treatment in which patients are usually required to come for several visits per week (between four and six) for several years. The client is usually expected to lie on a couch and free associate. If you are interested in classical psychoanalysis, I can refer you to a trained English-speaking psychoanalyst affiliated with the Czech Psychoanalytic Society. 

Balanced Lifestyles Counselling in Prague does not offer psychoanalysis to its clients. I specialize in shorter term individual and couple counselling, psychotherapy and conflict management. We'll sit facing each other in comfortable chairs as we work together.