Counselling, Psychotherapy and CBT: How do they differ?

In this article, the third of this series, we consider aspects around three models of therapy – counselling, psychotherapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).


Counselling – present participle of coun•sel (Verb)
Verb: 1 – Give advice to (someone).
2 – Give professional psychological help and advice to (someone)

As I alluded to in the last piece. We seek counsel almost every day in one form or another:

  • Do I look alright?
  • What do you think I should do with this business opportunity?

But when ‘we’ think of going to a ‘Counsellor’, it’s more often than not when we can no longer cope! Counsel can offer so much more than picking up the pieces and guiding you back to some form of peace. Challenges accepted and acknowledged earlier from the onset of symptoms enjoy successful resolution in a far shorter timescale than those who leave matters until feelings become desperate.

It is a wise person who seeks assistance with an issue that just doesn’t seem to be going away and who seeks the advice of an impartial, non judgemental advocate and coach to your cause. In a safe, secure, and confidential environment – this is empowering! But it seems because sufferers may not understand the process, they feel they have failed in some way, or perhaps just as bad – dis-empowered if they ‘need’ the help of a counsellor.


A counsellor’s key skill is to be a ‘listener’!


You may feel that ‘anyone’ can listen. Trust me – it is a skill to simply listen without interjecting or putting an opinion across of your own. Try it! So how does this help?

With all the ‘noise’ of daily activity and the ‘busyness’ of life each day, we rarely really listen to ourselves, let alone others. Sure we hear ‘stuff’ and make decisions about that which we hear but most of that is reactive, using learnt behaviours than go round and round in our lives without much true consideration. The most positive thing about any kind of counsel, whatever kind of counselling is provided is the manner in which the client feels after the first and second session compared to immediately before. This always brings a rewarding smile to my face.


Noun: psy•cho•ther•a•py/
The treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means.

Therapists are trained to understand what you say — your words, how you say them and which ones you do not use. They pay attention to body language and voice tone to fully understand your speech. Having learned about and treated people with your condition before, therapists can comprehend your particular problems. They are familiar with the symptoms of various psychiatric illnesses and the difficulties of daily living. They know what questions to ask and might pose questions that you have never heard before.


The communication between patient and therapist is not equal.


Therapists rarely reveal their opinions or stances on various issues, such as abortion or politics. Psychotherapists will still use counselling techniques but have a more detailed training and understanding surrounding analysis and interpretation of an individual’s challenges.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behaviour therapy can be employed to treat people suffering from a wide range of disorders, including anxiety, phobias, depression, and addiction. CBT is one of the most researched types of therapy, in part because treatment is focused on a highly specific goal and results can be measured relatively easily. It is not a standalone therapeutic process, nor does it infer that your challenges are more severe. A useful adjunct, that once again is used with other models of therapy, is CBT is not for everyone.


CBT is one of the most researched types of therapy…


Cognitive behaviour therapy is often best suited to individuals who are comfortable with introspection. In order for CBT to be effective, the individual must be ready and willing to spend time and effort analysing his or her thoughts and feelings. Such self-analysis can be difficult, but it is a great way to learn more about how internal states impact outward behaviour. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also well suited for people looking for a short-term treatment options that do not necessarily involve pharmacological medication. With more skilled practitioners, CBT may be useful for long-term issues.

One of the greatest benefits of cognitive behaviour therapy is that it helps clients develop coping skills that can be useful both now and in the future.

These are the briefest of synopsis and are deliberately ‘generalist’. For any impartial advice on the above on other issues around emotional and thought wellbeing, contact me for a prompt response, in confidence and without obligation.

About the author
Bob Brotchie

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, life coach and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

Counselling, Psychotherapy and CBT: How do they differ?

by Bob Brotchie time to read: 3 min