Types of Counselling Provided

Main therapeutic approaches used by counsellor/therapists:

In general counsellor/therapists are be guided by various theoretical and therapeutic approaches and aim to adapt therapy to suit your needs and problems.

If you do not think a particular treatment approach or style is helping you can discuss this with your counsellor or if necessary request to see an alternative counsellor.


Counselling is generally engaged in with people who are healthy but facing a life problem. It is essentially a form of therapy which helps individuals to deal with the psychological effects of specific life events such as health problems, trauma, bereavement, relationship difficulties and addiction problems.

Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy

This approach is based on a view that each person lives out their experience through integration of their body, feeling, mind and spirit. The aim of the therapy is to facilitate wholeness within the client’s personal and external constraints.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This is a combination of approaches adapted mainly from learning theory. This type of therapy aims to resolve symptoms and solve problems by changing behaviour or thinking patterns.  These changes can be targeted at the environmental level and the cues which bring about or control the behaviour, or at the level of thoughts and beliefs which affect moods.

Systemic and Family Therapy

This form of therapy considers the distress of the individual in the context of relationships within family and society.  The therapy addresses patterns of interaction, meaning and behaviour within a wide system, and the client is facilitated in changing patterns and roles within the system.

Integration of Different Approaches

Recently, there has been a trend towards integration of different therapeutic approaches (Albeniz and Holmes 1996).  At the level of practice, many effective psychotherapeutic treatments use a combination of approaches such as Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) which combines approaches from psychodynamic and cognitive schools.  Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) tries to change the way people think, act and feel in problematic interpersonal relationships.

Psychodynamic Therapy

This approach draws on psychoanalytic theory developed initially by Freud. The central focus for therapy is conflict arising from early childhood. Through the relationship with the therapist, the conflict is identified and resolved.  Usually this involves long-term therapy, 1--2 years’ duration, shorter time limited forms have also been developed. Group analytic therapy founded by Foulkes, and informed by psychoanalytic and developmental theories, aims to strengthen the relationship between the individual and the group to enable the individual to achieve a healthier integration with family and community.

(The Role, Value and Effectiveness of Psychological Therapies: Benefits for the Irish Health Service Final Draft Report of the Working Group on the Role of Psychotherapy within the Health Service, March 2005)