Even the UK's two major accreditation and regulatory bodies, The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) have difficulty in agreeing where the difference between psychotherapy and counselling lies. Training for a Psychotherapeutic Counselling Diploma is normally three years, whereas to qualify as  a psychotherapist, which is a masters level qualification, requires a minimum of four.  A traditional view is that counselling is for working in the shorter term and at less depth; helping fix a problem, perhaps, but without necessarily exploring all the causes, whereas psychotherapy digs deeper to bring about more profound change.


In reality, psychotherapy and counselling are both talking therapies which offer the possibility of positive change. Research shows unequivocally that the greatest determining factor in the success of therapy is not in the modality of the practitioner but in the relationship that develops between him or her and the client.


Our recommendation would certainly be that rather than focusing on labels, to see how you feel when meeting a potential therapist for the first time. Do you feel safe? Heard? Understood? This is someone with whom you will be exploring difficult issues, things perhaps you can't talk about with anyone else. Does this person feel like someone you could do that with?


That being said, some labels are important. Your safety is paramount and whoever you choose should be an accredited member of  BACP or a member of UKCP and therefore practicing within their strictly governed ethical guidelines.