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How Does Counseling Differ From Cognitive Therapies Such As NLP Or CBT?

Jun 17, 2008
If you are considering having some form of therapy it can sometimes be difficult to decide which therapy is best suited to meet your needs. Most people are aware of what counselling is, but nowadays there are other options such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP). I practice cognitive behavioural therapy in Hertfordshire. Often people contact me to discuss how CBT and NLP, Hertfordshire differs from counselling therapy. This article will introduce you to how these therapies differ from traditional counselling approaches.

Counselling involves meeting with a counsellor and having the opportunity to explore via talking, difficulties you may be having or distress you may be experiencing. The counsellors role is to listen attentively to what you are telling them in order to begin to form an understanding of your perspective of the difficulties you may be experiencing. Counselling does not involve giving advice or guiding a client to take a particular course of action. Through the process of being listened to by a counsellor, who is trained to reflect and help you to clarify your problem, counselling can be a way of enabling change, more choices or of helping you release strong emotion and feeling, which you have kept bottled up or have felt unable to share with family or friends.

During counselling you are able to explore and talk freely about any aspect of your life, be it past, present or in the future, in a setting which is confidential. Counsellors accept and respect their clients and provide a safe environment for the client to explore their life, relationships and themselves. Counselling can be very useful for helping people to deal with distressing emotions associated with bereavement and loss. Counselling can be very useful for you if you feel you would benefit from being listened to or feel burdened by troubles.

Cognitive approaches such as CBT and NLP are both approaches used to promote positive change in individuals. Like counselling, the therapist will treat you with respect and provide a confidential environment for you to work through your problems. Cognitive approaches are effective at alleviating emotional distress and behavioural problems. Unlike counselling, cognitive techniques can be practised by the individual and are based on the philosophy that the content of our thoughts have a major influence on our emotions and behaviour. Through cognitive therapy, it is possible to learn ways to eradicate or manage the types of thoughts you have, which means that the state of mind they sustain, such as anxiety, can be resolved. CBT and NLP are solution-focused techniques that focus on the 'here and now'. Unlike other talking treatments, such as counselling, the focus is not on trying to find the cause of your distress (the therapist will take a full history and discuss your past but practical strategies to promote well-being in the present is the main focus) rather you will learn to improve your state of mind right now. This involves learning which factors maintain your distress or problem and learning strategies to overcome your problem, which you will practice in your own time.

NLP is an intimidating name for what is a common sense, practical and effective therapy. 'Neuro' means brain, 'linguistic' relates to how we use language both to communicate with others, and within our own brain and 'programming' relates to how we create and use patterns of behaviour in everyday life in order to get results. We know that we experience the world through our senses and that this information is translated into thoughts. How you use this internal language in your own brain directly affects your physiology, emotions and behaviour. People tend to develop habits and patterns of using internal language that have positive or negative effects on their emotions and behaviour. NLP therapy, Edinburgh encourages new perspectives and options in thinking, giving you more choices about your behaviour and emotions, enhancing your communication and relationships and generating lasting life skills.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on how you think about a problem (cognitive) and what you do about it (behaviour). CBT can teach you how to recognise and change faulty thinking patterns. This doesn't mean that you will always think positive thoughts. It is a way to gain control over racing repetitive thoughts, which feed anxiety and depression. CBT can help you make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into achievable parts.

Both these therapy approaches are practical and focused on problem solving in order to meet your therapy goals. This means that unlike counselling, sessions are more structured and less free flowing as you move towards change with the support of your therapist. Often people will seek cognitive therapy such as CBT, Edinburgh or NLP, Edinburgh when they want solutions to their problem or to move on from limiting thinking, feelings or behaviour.
About the Author
Karen Hastings is a NHS experienced mental health occupational therapist, Master NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. Karen uses hypnotherapy in Edinburgh, along with cognitive therapy and NLP approaches. For more information about Hypnotherapy or NLP, Edinburgh visit http://www.karenhastings.co.uk
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