A dictionary definition of psychotherapy may be reassuring to those who doubt the wisdom of the counsellor’s becoming involved in difficult cases.
Psychotherapy is the treatment of maladjustment by any psychological technique including faith cure, hypnosis, or psychoanalysis. Therapy may also include activities in which counsellors routinely employ assurance, advice, suggestion, and psychodrama. The big difference between counselling and psychotherapy appears to be a matter of structure. It has been indicated that in psychotherapy the approach is general and initially vague while in counselling, as typically viewed, the relationship involves a specific problem. It is a simple matter to demonstrate that very frequently a specific problem of vocational choice is an excuse the counselee uses to deal with a general problem of dislike of parents, distrust of teachers, and fear of one’s peers. It must also be admitted that aversion to psychotherapy on the part of the counsellor is an indication that he lacks the skill and knowledge that will give him sufficient self-assurance to function in a situation lacking the comfort of discernable structure. The final fact is that making a vocational choice often does call for an examination and evaluation of personal problems. We have previously stated that the counsellor’s skills define his role.
Those who are inadequately prepared must necessarily seek comfort in those conceptualisations which limit the range of their counselling activities. Those who are well prepared in theory and laboratory experience find it difficult to limit their work to an information-giving role similar to that of a classroom teacher. Their perception of the bearing which the counselee’s attitudes, prior conditionings, and personal self-defeating behaviours have on all decision-making makes it difficult to avoid their assumption of psychotherapeutic roles.