Counselling Glossary


Counselling Glossary

Integrative Counselling

Integrative counselling is an approach to psychotherapy which considers an individual’s holistic needs, including mental, physical, and emotional. An integrative therapist will draw upon ideas and techniques from different modalities and approaches to best suit the individual needs of their clients.

It is evidenced that the therapeutic relationship counts for more than any specific theory or approach to counselling, and as such integrative counsellors hold this as an integral part of the process. Integrative therapists will provide you with a non-judgmental and genuine space to explore your presenting issues.

Understanding unwanted emotional and behavioural triggers can improve your self-awareness and therefore empower you to set personal goals which are realistic and manageable. Integrative counselling is an effective therapy for individuals looking for an increased sense of fulfilment in their lives and self-improvement. This approach may be helpful for issues such as low self-esteem/confidence, difficulties making important decisions, stress, physical ill health, and negative self-image.

Couples therapy

Couples counselling is an effective talking therapy for couples. Couples therapists provide a safe space for couples to explore improved communication, resolve issues that are presenting within the relationship and explore a preferred future together.

Couples therapy ideas suggest that identifying dysfunctional patterns within relationships helps couples to develop a deeper understanding of their problems in relation to each other and other influential relationships. Talking about such within a neutral space helps couples to communicate more effectively, move towards resolving conflicts, create a closer connection with each other and grow intimacy.

Couples therapy is also an effective therapy for couples who are separated or divorced and equally seek a safe space to explore various aspects of separation that may be challenging to manage independently, for example, child-focused issues, finances, and living arrangements, amongst others.

This approach is collaborative; the therapist aims to develop an authentic therapeutic relationship, and you are supported to make your own conclusions and choices. A couples therapist will help you to reflect on your past and explore how this impacts your present and your future. Couples therapy can be short or long-term and often involves ‘homework’ activities between the sessions.

Within this approach, the therapist works collaboratively with you to discover new meanings and your own goals towards a preferred future.

Transpersonal therapy

Transpersonal therapy refers to any therapy which encourages a more holistic approach to the human experience. This approach goes beyond only the personal and looks to embrace spiritual aspects of the self’s existence, which is integral for a person to move towards growth and change.

It is thought that there is always a higher form of growth to strive for, something that goes beyond personal experiences. Transpersonal therapists are open-minded, curious, and respectful; they are positioned in this way so that they can be equally with their clients throughout the process.

This approach will support you to connect with both your psychological and spiritual being, helping you to see your worth and thus strive towards self-actualisation. Some of the methods used are journaling, body awareness movement, inner child healing, breathing techniques, dream work, gestalt, yoga, and developing imagination and intuition, amongst others.

Transpersonal therapy is effective in treating anxiety, depression, phobias, addictions, and other psychological conditions which may reflect a spiritual aspect that needs addressing.

Relationship therapy

Relationship therapy is an effective talking therapy which aims to address unhelpful patterns/cycles within relationships. This approach encourages improved communication, greater intimacy, and problem resolution.

A relationship therapist will create a safe space to manage distressing/unhelpful patterns that are identified within the relationship in a different way. Although relationship therapy is offered to couples in an intimate relationship together, there are occasions where one partner may attend alone due to hesitation from the other or at specific points throughout the therapeutic process.

This will be carefully managed by the relationship therapist, who aims to maintain confidentiality, neutrality and build trust with both parties. Talking to a relationship therapist, as an ‘outsider’, can help you to share your thoughts and feelings honestly and your perspective of the problems you are experiencing in your relationship.

You may be given ‘homework’ tasks which are designed to help you focus on your goals outside of the therapy sessions. Relationship therapy can be effective for any relationship where there are relational difficulties, such as between couples, family members, work colleagues, or other significant relationships.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy is an approach to therapy which is developed from attachment theory. An EFT therapist aims to help individuals, couples, and families to rebuild emotional closeness within their relationships by helping them to understand their own emotions and the emotions of others.

This approach to therapy helps to heal distress in relationships due to insecure attachments, for example, where a relationship has suffered abandonment or rejection. The EFT approach promotes the idea that where love and an emotional connection is present in a relationship, there is a feeling of safety.

Whereas if there is an emotional disconnection, this can lead to distress and insecure attachments. An EFT therapist will help you to learn about emotional needs and how to be responsive to these.

Within this relational approach, you will be supported to identify unhelpful or unwanted patterns of interaction within your relationships. Once these patterns become clear, you are encouraged to use your new understanding to consider different ways of responding to each other. Breaking the cycle can increase emotional connectivity and heal or repair your relationships. EFT is found to be an effective therapy for diverse client groups.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is an approach to therapy which aims to facilitate changes in thinking and behaviour. This approach is often short-term and, as such, focuses on present rather than past problems. A CBT therapist aims to look at practical ways of making changes to unwanted thoughts and behaviours using various techniques. CBT therapists believe that the way that we think about our experiences impacts the way we feel and behave.

Therefore, negative thoughts will lead to negative emotions and then behaviours. Similarly, positive thoughts will lead to positive emotions and then behaviours. With this in mind, CBT therapists will help you to identify and challenge negative thinking, thus leading you to behave in a more positive way.

CBT can empower you to break free from negative thinking patterns that are having a significant impact on your life. Some of the techniques often used by CBT therapists include keeping thought records, breathing and relaxation, structured activities which challenge your way of thinking, exposure therapy and behavioural activation.

CBT is an evidence-based practice which is endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); it has proven to be helpful in treating anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, depression, PTSD, sleep problems, anger management, Schizophrenia, and other mental ill health in the NHS.


Coaching is a different dialogue-based process to counselling which happens between a coach and individuals, groups, or teams. Coaching differs from counselling because it is mainly characterised by goal-setting and meaningful ‘challenges’ from the coach. This element of challenge may be more suited to clients who are able to emotionally self-regulate and therefore are able to engage on this level and thus make real steps towards their goals.

Coaching is often sought when an individual, team or group want to make progress in the present, short-term or further into the future.  A coach aims to facilitate self-development, self-improvement, and increased self-awareness; they will support you in developing your current strengths and creating new insight into your emerging strengths.

Although a coach aims to stretch you, the goal-oriented sessions are directed by your own desired goals and solutions. This is a collaborative process, and the varying types of coaching may draw upon useful therapeutic models such as solution-focused, CBT or, a person-centred approach. Coaching sessions can range in timing (up to a few hours) and will integrate aspects of these models and others into a structure that is client-focused and interactive.

Art therapy

Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy approach which uses the expression of art media to communicate feelings and emotions which may be particularly distressing to share through words. Art therapy has been influenced by psychoanalysis theory and has been inspired by various other client-centred approaches, such as attachment-based therapy, mindfulness, and cognitive analytic therapies.

Art therapists use the process of creating art as the focus of therapy, but this does not mean that you need to have previous experience in any form of art or be ‘artistic’. This approach to therapy is offered to a wide range of clients with varying needs, including children, youth, adults, and the elderly.

Individuals or groups who engage in Art therapy may be experiencing mental, emotional, or behavioural problems, have experienced trauma, have a physical or learning disability or be living with other physical or neurological illnesses. Art therapy can include drawing, painting, clay making, photography, colouring, or modelling.

Art therapists believe that using art as an expression can help to offer you healing, relieve stress, increase your self-awareness, and improve your mental well-being. This approach to psychotherapy is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). As such, Art therapists will be qualified and registered according to their specific training and experience.

Behavioural therapy

The focus of behavioural therapy is to identify and address unwanted and unhealthy human behaviours. This approach to therapy encourages the idea that whilst behaviours can be learned, they can also be unlearned. Behavioural therapy is generally used to help people with specific mental health conditions and behavioural problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, phobias, and addictions.

Behavioural therapists aim to work with you to focus on present problems in your life and learn new, healthier, and more positive behaviours. Although it is believed that the unwanted behaviours may be learned due to past experiences, behavioural therapy focuses on altering present behaviours rather than analysing the past.

There are various types of behavioural therapy, namely Applied behavioural analysis, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), Exposure therapy, Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) and Social learning theory.

Brief therapy

Brief therapy is a type of short-term therapy which is often referred to as Solution- focused brief therapy (SFBT). Steve De Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg and others in the family therapy field developed this approach to therapy. Brief therapy promotes the idea of moving away from problem talk and towards solution talk within therapy.

It is thought that focusing on goal setting and building solutions, rather than delving into past problems, can help clients to make positive changes both effectively and briefly.

Within this approach, therapists encourage you to set goals based on your strengths and preferred future; you will always lead these goals. A brief therapist will help you to explore ways of working towards your goals that are realistic, manageable, and unique to you. Brief therapy is an evidence-based practice which has been shown to be effective for various problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, relational problems, eating disorders, sexual problems, sleep problems and low self-esteem.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT)

CAT is an approach to therapy which seeks to understand the way we think, feel and act based on our past experiences and relationships. It is thought that finding new ways of coping and moving forward comes secondary to this understanding.

CAT aims to explore the past in depth, including problems that are relational and then use this understanding to find new and healthier ways of managing problems. The ideas within the CAT approach derive from a combination of analytic psychology and cognitive therapy.

The initial analytic side of the approach explores the connections between past experiences or events and how they impact the present, noticing the reasoning behind where things have gone wrong in the past.

A CAT therapist will then use cognitive therapy techniques to move along the process and explore more effective ways of coping. CAT therapists aim to find new tools to help you to cope with your problems in a healthier way moving forward.

This is based on the idea that changing beliefs about problems will help you to make better choices. The process of creating effective coping strategies is collaborative; the therapist will help you to look at your problems objectively and invite you to be open about what is or is not working. CAT is usually short-term, averaging 16 sessions; however, sessions could range anywhere between 4 and 24 weeks.

Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy is a collaborative approach to therapy which has formed the foundation of many contemporary cognitive and behavioural therapy models. The ideas surrounding cognitive therapy have been developed by Aaron Beck when treating patients with depression.

Beck noted common themes presented within therapy, which hinted towards patients’ negative thinking patterns and perceptions, such as negative ideas about themselves, negative thoughts about the world and negative thoughts about the future.

Cognitive therapists believe that previous experiences contribute to these negative perceptions of self and therefore influence feelings, attitudes and, thus, the ability to manage in certain situations.

This approach uses psychoeducation as an intervention to help you to become aware of your negative thinking patterns. A cognitive therapist will challenge the implications of negative perceptions about yourself with the aim of guiding you towards new, more positive responses and behaviour. Cognitive therapy is often used to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Marriage Counselling

Marriage counselling is an effective form of relationship counselling which aims to improve communication and resolve issues within an intimate couple relationship.

A marriage counsellor will provide a safe space for couples to actively hear one another and express their thoughts and feelings around issues which are difficult to talk about independently.

Sessions are confidential, and the counsellor seeks to offer a non-judgemental, curious, and neutral position to the couple. Although the process of counselling mainly takes place within the sessions, it is common for Marriage counsellors to set ‘homework’ activities which can be worked on in-between the sessions.

A Marriage counsellor will often check in with the couple as a follow-up to these tasks, reflecting on the experience, implications of the tasks (including any challenges) and how it has made them both feel. Marriage counselling can help you to develop intimacy in your relationship that can often be lost over time or because of challenging life changes.

This approach can also help support you in identifying unhelpful patterns in your relationship and discovering new meanings and understanding of relational issues and how to meet each other’s needs best.

Marriage counselling is effective for exploring some of the following common themes: mistrust, affairs, poor communication, finances, external stressors, sexual issues, parenting, family planning, and life transitions, amongst others.

Transactional Analysis (TA)

Transactional Analysis is an approach to therapy that was founded by Eric Bern. TA is based on the idea that we communicate from our 3 egos-states which are parent, adult, and child.

TA therapy analyses which personality state we are communicating from and looks to find better ways to interact to achieve a better outcome.

TA is a contemporary approach to therapy which is widely used to support individual growth and change. A TA therapist uses carefully draws from techniques and methods deriving from a combination of humanistic, cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic therapy approaches.

Sessions will explore how an individual’s experiences and beliefs are shaped by their past experiences, especially those of childhood. A TA therapist will help you to consider ‘unconscious scripts’ that you may be living out stemming from childhood experiences, they will also help you to identify which ego-state you are communicating from when you are facing difficulties interacting with others, and they will help you to looks more closely at transactions and how they may blend in a healthier way with others.

TA is an effective therapy for a wide range of problems and can be applied in other settings that are not specifically therapeutic.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

The emotional Freedom Technique is a type of Energy Psychology that is also known as ‘tapping therapy’. Energy Psychology sees the body as a system of energy pathways which can be disrupted by physical or psychological events/experiences.

This theory acknowledges the significant links noted between the mind and the body in the psychotherapy field. For example, distressing thoughts are connected to distressing feelings.

EFT was developed by Gary Craig with ideas deriving from a combination of Acupuncture and Thought Field Therapy. It is thought that ‘tapping’ areas of the body where energy flow has become stuck or stopped whilst turning focus to the emotional issues presented for the client will clear energy blockages and thus relieve negative emotions.

An EFT practitioner will create phrases for you to repeat whilst ‘tapping’ disrupted pathways of energy in your body. The combination of both ‘tapping’ and ‘talking’ is acknowledged as an effective therapeutic process. Since emotions are the way in which your body provides feedback to distressing life events, unblocking energy disruptions will help to re-balance your emotions.

Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is a philosophical approach to psychotherapy which aims to help us take responsibility for our own accomplishments in life. This approach emphasises living in the moment rather than exploring past experiences in great depth.

Whilst Existential Therapists may look to their clients’ past for insight and understanding around their difficulties, they aim to bring their client’s focus into the here and now, highlighting their capabilities to make their life their own.

A fundamental belief held by Existential therapists is that a human’s emotional and psychological difficulties are, in fact, inner conflicts caused by facing the ‘givens’ of existence. These givens are realities in life that cannot be avoided, such as freedom and responsibility, existential isolation, meaninglessness, and death.

Existential therapists also hold a key belief that although humans exist alone in the world that they are always longing to connect with other people. An Existential therapist will provide a non-judgemental space for you to explore your individual experience in your life and will help you to make connections with the experience of all human beings.

For example, the reality that all human beings will inevitably die can be both anxiety provoking for some and liberating for others. An Existential therapist will help you to embrace your freedom to be self-governing, find meaning and immerse yourself in the present. This approach to therapy is effective for those aiming to confront anxieties, negative thinking and those facing other issues related to their existence.

Eye Movement and Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is an approach to psychotherapy which aims to reprocess the way in which the brain remembers traumatic life experiences where there are often accompanying distressing symptoms.

The process of EMDR sets out to imitate a psychological stage of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM). It is proven that during this stage of sleep, we have the capacity to make new connections between things at such a high speed that this process could also be advantageous for resolving traumatic memories.

EMDR can help to process several aspects of traumatic memories we often find difficult to shift, such as negative physical sensations, emotions, pictures, and beliefs that are associated with a traumatic event. An EMDR therapist will use a structured approach which involves side-to-side eye movements and talking therapy.

The therapist will begin by gaining an understanding of the traumatic life event and its impact on you; this is done in a very sensitive manner due to the nature of these memories. Then they will begin to access the traumatic memory situated in your unconscious mind and help you to reprocess it; the stimulation here involves movement from one side of the brain to the other by using side-to-side eye movements or other techniques.

EMDR is significantly effective for those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, addictions, psychosis, and other mental ill health in as little as 6 sessions.

Family Therapy

Family Therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that sees the relationships within a family system as key to addressing symptomatic behaviour in individuals and resolving relational problems.

This can often relieve the impact of blame on an intrapersonal level. Family therapists aim to maintain a neutral position when joining the family system and in building therapeutic relationships with the family members. Family members are provided with a safe space to explore how they see their problems and express their thoughts and feelings.

A family therapist will help you to notice unhelpful patterns of family functioning and work towards making changes to break these cycles. You will be supported to develop a new understanding within your relationships and consider each other’s needs. Family therapists aim to bring forth strengths that have maintained family functioning, which could be drawn upon to make changes within your relationships moving forward.

This is a positive approach to recognising what you are doing well at as a family.

Family therapy is an effective approach for various problems affecting the family system, including extended family relationships and those in the wider society.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is a form of CBT that is evidence-based and has been adapted to treat multiple mental health conditions aside from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

DBT helps to promote emotional regulation, and the reduction is self-disruptive behaviours. DBT aims to help individuals to learn how to live in the moment, develop healthy coping strategies and improve their relationships with others. DBT uses group therapy, individual therapy, and other techniques to help individuals towards these goals. Some other techniques include mindfulness, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness.

There are many activities that DBT therapists use as tools to help you along your journey. DBT therapy is effective in treating BPD, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), self-harming behaviour, suicidal ideation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Bipolar disorder.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a Humanistic approach to psychotherapy which sees individuals as whole within their environment and context rather than dealing with these separately. Emphasis is placed on an individual’s perceptions which have the potential to change with new understanding and insight.

Gestalt therapists help bring focus to the here and now, making sense of immediate thoughts, feelings, and actions so that individuals can understand and relate to others and circumstances in a different way.

This approach focuses on an individual’s unique experience of their world and encourages adjustment to new, positive perceptions. Gestalt therapists will use various exercises to help you move towards taking responsibility for your thoughts, emotions, actions, and choices with the aim of reaching your full potential.

The exercises provide a space for both verbal and non-verbal behaviour to be explored. Body language is often an important aspect of exploration within Gestalt therapy.

For example, the ‘empty chair’ exercise provides a space for you to engage in a dialogue with another person who is physically absent or has an inner voice. Within this process, you can draw upon poignant perceptions, beliefs, and meanings and move towards healing emotional experiences.

Gestalt therapy uses other acting-out exercises as well as language and dream recall. This is an effective approach to therapy in treating anxiety, depression, stress, and physical/psychological tension.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapies consist of various approaches to counselling, such as person-centred counselling, gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, existential therapy, and solution focus-therapy, amongst others. A key idea underpinning humanistic therapies is that all human beings naturally move towards their full potential.

This approach sees the individual as a whole and aims to help individuals take responsibility of their thoughts, feelings, and actions in the moment. A Humanistic therapist aims to develop a trusting relationship with their clients and reflect with them in a way that helps to increase their self-awareness.

The Humanistic approach avoids de-constructing problematic behaviour and rather focuses on being in the moment. Humanistic therapies will help you with self-development and self-exploration so that you can experience a greater sense of fulfilment within your life.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is a structured and brief therapy approach which focuses on the impact of already identified problems in relationships that are causing individual psychological distress.

IPT is based on the idea that difficulties interacting with others can cause psychological symptoms, which then feed into further interactional problems within relationships.

IPT therapy aims to address this cycle of interaction by helping clients to notice patterns of problematic interactions and find more helpful coping strategies within their relationships.

An IPT therapist will initially help you to think about what you would like to gain from therapy and then discuss interpersonal issues that you have identified and would like to focus on working through.

Due to the time-limited nature of this approach, IPT therapists will not deviate from identified interpersonal problems as the primary focus throughout the structured sessions (on average, 12-16). An IPT therapist will then help you to understand your concerns better and find ways to make changes to your interactions that can be upheld successfully outside of the therapy sessions.

Although the sessions are tailored to your individual concerns, there are some commonalities that may be explored within IPT sessions. For example, identifying and expressing your emotions and noticing patterns from past relationships that have impacted your current interactions.

IPT is an effective therapy which can help you with life transitions, grief and loss, conflicts, and interpersonal deficits.

Jungian Therapy

Jungian therapy is a psychoanalytical approach to therapy that is developed by the work of Carl Jung. Jung’s idea of the unconscious mind was not only that of a personal experience but rather one that sits amongst a larger collective human unconscious.

It is thought that the collective human unconscious is inherited and, as such, explains patterns/habits of the human psyche that are common to everyone and can be challenging to break, for example, anxiety or depression.

Helping individuals to become more self-aware can help them to identify where their psyche is out of balance and therefore find ways to make the changes they desire consciously. The Jungian theory suggests that bringing the conscious and unconscious into balance will help individuals to become more balanced and complete.

Jungian therapists will analyse aspects of your unconscious mind, such as dreams, the use of imagination through creative activities, and word association tests. This approach will help you to understand yourself better so that you can develop the ability to manage your difficulties in a more effective way. Jungian therapy can help individuals with personal development and healing.


Psychosynthesis is an approach to therapy that derives from psychoanalysis. This approach aims to be inclusive of all elements of humanity, such as our mental, physical, and spiritual attributes. It is thought that in bringing these together, we have the optimum level of opportunities available for growth and development.

A psychosynthesis therapist will establish a helpful relationship with you so that you can explore your spiritual consciousness at a heightened level; this holistic approach will help you move towards self-actualisation.

Therapists use a diverse range of techniques and methods from other psychotherapeutic approaches to facilitate your individual processes, such as gestalt therapy, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, meditation, family therapy and others. Psychosynthesis will help you to work through behaviours that are preventing your growth and development and are often self-destructive.

Psychosynthesis aims to improve your self-worth and overall well-being. This is an effective approach for the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship problems and low self-esteem.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

Neurolinguistics programming is a psychological approach to therapy which combines cognitive behavioural and humanistic therapies with hypnotherapy.

The NLP approach is based on the idea that our reality is programmed based on our life experiences since we were born. This experience of the world is created through our senses, so there is a difference between what is believed to be absolute and true to others and our own individual realities.

NLP helps individuals to become aware of how they may have come to think and feel the way they do which empowers them to be in control of their behaviour. NLP practitioners will look at your successful strategies and help you to use them to develop further successful strategies and behavioural outcomes.

This approach creates a realistic and positive strength-based approach to reaching your personal goals. NLP is an effective therapy in treating anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, communication issues, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other mental ill health conditions.


Mindfulness is an approach to therapy which aims to help individuals feel more attuned with themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is based on the idea that consistently functioning on ‘autopilot’ can often lead to us forming negative habits as a reaction to day-to-day stress.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, anxiety and depression are the leading mental health issues in the UK; this is evidently a result of the increasing pressures of a fast-paced society with increasing expectations on work, family, and social commitments.

Mindfulness helps individuals to be present in the moment, noticing what is happening with their senses through various techniques such as mindful meditation or other mindfulness practices.

A mindfulness practitioner will guide you to practice mindful meditation by helping you to focus solely on images, sounds and physical sensations, blocking out and reducing your usual thoughts.

Other mindfulness practices include physical activities such as Yoga and Tai Chi, which are both practices which involve meditation and a diversion of focus to other sensations.

Mindfulness can help you to notice and reduce or even stop negative habitual responses, it can help you to feel more balanced and in touch with yourself and even your creativity, and it can help you to develop clarity in your situation. Mindfulness is an effective therapy in treating sleep problems, anxiety, depression, anger/negative feelings, and chronic illnesses.

Person-centred therapy

Person-centred therapy is a client-centred approach to therapy which promotes the belief that everyone has the capability to move towards growth and change and thus reach their full potential. This approach was developed by Carl Rogers, who suggests that all can achieve self-actualisation given the right core conditions, empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard.

A Person-centred counsellor values the client’s expertise in their own lives and, as such, offers a non-directive, safe space for a client to explore any negative feelings or beliefs whilst walking alongside them on their journey of personal growth.

A key focus in this approach is the counsellor building a respectful, trusting, and authentic therapeutic relationship with their clients in which a client will feel empowered to become self-governing.

It is thought that the client’s increased self-awareness and their experience of acceptance within the therapeutic relationship open possibilities for this to be experienced externally in the counselling relationship also. Person-centred counselling can help you to connect with your values and self-worth and therefore help you to find your own way forward.

This approach is effective for individuals looking for support in their personal growth and healing.

Systemic therapy

Systemic therapy is a term used for family therapy and marriage therapy.

This approach to therapy aims to look at the transactional patterns within the relationships of various systems. A system could be a family or a couple, and it could also include wider systems such as extended family, religious groups, school, or work. Systemic therapy sees problems as relational and therefore believes that an individual’s symptomatic behaviour can be relieved in the context of change occurring within relational interaction.

For example, a systemic therapist may help a family member to externalise depression, moving away from blaming the individual member but rather gaining an understanding of how the family’s feedback patterns are maintaining dysfunctional patterns and thus depression.

Systemic therapy will help you to understand each other better so that you can move towards resolving problems within your relationships. A systemic therapist will provide a safe space for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and problems within your relationships.

This approach emphasises the importance of the therapist building a therapeutic relationship with each participating member of the family or group.

They will not take sides but remain neutral throughout the process. Systemic therapy is an effective approach in improving relationships, improving communication, and helping with mental illness, children’s challenging behaviour, chronic illness, loss, trauma, or separation within the family.

Phenomenological therapy

A Phenomenological approach to therapy considers an individual’s experience of an event and what it means in their unique reality rather than focusing on how it is experienced externally. Within this approach, the therapist-client relationship is a priority over using other therapeutic interventions.

A therapist aims to build an honest relationship where the client can openly talk about their thoughts and feelings. Thus, helping clients to confront difficult experiences in a safe space. A therapist will help you to explore the reasons why you hold certain perceptions and help you to learn more effective ways of thinking and behaving.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is a type of therapy that is predominantly used with children to help them to express their thoughts and feelings more effectively.

This approach to therapy uses the medium of play as a tool for children to communicate their thoughts and feelings and explore their life experiences. Since play is already a significant part of children’s daily lives, children can engage more readily and freely in the sessions.

Play therapy will use a range of creative ideas and activities to help children act out what they may not be able to put into words. Emerging themes relating to children’s difficulties can be identified and explored in play therapy, and it is often offered to children who may be presenting challenging behaviour or emotional difficulties.

A play therapist will work with children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and create a safe environment for them to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Children will find new ways of coping with their everyday lives and challenges with the support of their play therapist, helping them to learn and adapt to positive perspectives of themselves and the world around them.

Play therapy is an effective therapy for various issues impacting children, such as parental divorce/separation, domestic abuse, trauma, abuse, looking after children, loss, grief, physical ill health, accidents/disasters, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Psychoanalysis is an approach to psychotherapy developed by Sigmund Freud and is based on the idea that our current difficulties are a direct result of repressed past experiences. Psychoanalysis believes the unconscious mind holds childhood and past experiences which impact thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in the present and later in life.

It is thought that bringing forth these repressed thoughts and feelings into the conscious mind will allow us to deal with difficulties and thus facilitate a process of change.

An analyst will help you to explore deep-rooted thoughts and develop an understanding of how these unconsciously affect your relationships and behaviours. This approach encourages you to talk about your experiences using various techniques, which can often be a process over the longer term.

Effective techniques which are used in psychoanalysis are free association and dream analysis.

Dream analysis involves the analyst interpreting symbols of concern within your recurring dreams, which are believed to be an indicator towards any unfulfilled desires. The free association involves the analyst giving you a stimulus word and inviting you to reply with the first thing that comes to mind, thus tapping into the unconscious mind to bring forth thoughts and feelings.

By using these techniques, an analyst will help you to deal with what lies within your unconscious mind. Psychoanalysis is an effective therapy for a range of psychological disorders that may or may not have a known cause, such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

The psychodynamic psychotherapy approach stems from psychoanalysis; however, the focus is on immediate presenting problems rather than delving heavily into the past. This approach aims to find solutions more swiftly than the psychoanalysis approach but still places emphasis on understanding how the unconscious and past experiences influence current behaviour.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy believes that the unconscious mind holds onto painful memories and represses them as they are too difficult to be processed in the conscious mind.

This approach helps to bring those memories, thoughts, and feelings to the conscious mind so that they can be resolved. A psychodynamic therapist provides a trusting and accepting relationship for you to manage this process safely.

It is thought that unresolved issues in past relationships that are harboured in the unconscious mind will affect your mood and behaviour. This could be acted out through projection onto others as a defence mechanism.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy uses techniques such as transference, where feelings you have previously experienced in important relationships are projected onto the therapist; they also use free association and interpretation. This approach is effective for individuals who can self-reflect and are curious about inner exploration and relieving their symptoms.

Eclectic counselling

Eclectic counselling is an approach to therapy which uses various ideas and methods to facilitate the counselling process. An eclectic counsellor believes that there is no single favourable approach which can be generalised to suit all presenting problems. This approach is integrative and based on the client’s unique needs.

Within this practice, eclectic counsellors draw upon various theories which are evidence-based and within the counsellor’s area of competencies.

An eclectic counsellor will flexibly move between different models and methods to help you to explore your thinking and emotions, as well as physical experiences.

An eclectic counsellor aims to uncover underlying emotions leading to new understanding and your own desired change. It is thought that moving between models and methods in this way will inform the most useful techniques for you to be used in counselling. This approach is effective for individuals and groups with varying problems.

Solution- Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-focused brief therapy is an approach developed by Steve de Shazer and others in the family therapy field which encourages positive change and a focus on future-oriented goals in the short-term.

This is a brief therapy model, and as such less emphasis is placed on past problems; rather, the therapist helps the client to see their strengths and helps them to capture what they are currently doing well to manage their problems and symptoms.

An SFBT therapist will work collaboratively with you to set your own goals and work out how you may achieve them. This approach uses various techniques to facilitate this process, such as goal setting (using scaling), problem-free talk, looking at a preferred future (using the ‘miracle question’), identifying strengths and resources, acknowledging the desire for change and most importantly, the therapeutic alliance.

SFBT is an evidence-based approach which is proven to be effective for various problems such as depression, anxiety, sexual problems, relational difficulties, parent-child conflict, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, sleep problems and others.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

Functional Family Therapy is a form of systemic family therapy which is aimed at supporting young members of the family aged 11-18 years old by improving communication patterns within the family, emphasising positive interactions, promoting parental supervision/presence, and looking at setting boundaries. This approach to therapy is mainly accessible through social care. 

Multisystemic Family Therapy (MST)

Multisystemic Family Therapy is a form of systemic family therapy which combines family and community-based interventions. MST is aimed at supporting the safety and well-being of young people aged 11-17 years old who are at risk of being moved from their homes due to risky behaviour. MST aims to break the cycle of anti-social behaviour so that young people can remain at home with their families.

Adlerian therapy

Adlerian therapy is a contemporary approach to counselling and psychotherapy; it is also known as Individual Psychology (IP). Adlerian therapy was developed by the work of Alfred Adler, who was a physician and a psychologist working alongside Sigmund Freud.

An Individual Psychology approach considers the client’s unconscious process within human relationships and, at the same time, offers the client and therapist the opportunity to look at practical ways forward. Adlerian counsellors hold the belief that experiences in childhood, mainly early family experiences, shape the way we see the world and, thus, our responses to life events.

It is thought that we grow as adults to become unconsciously governed by what we make sense of as children, including feelings of inferiority and what future-oriented goals look like. An Adlerian counsellor will help you to understand why you may be noticing certain behaviours; this awareness will help you to find more useful ways of behaving. Once challenges have been identified, counsellors will help you to strategize effective ways of working towards your goals. Although commonly an individual therapy, this approach is proven to be positive for individuals, couples, and families.