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What is the difference of a mental health counsellor, a psychotherapist, and a psychiatrist?

There is significant overlap between them and it is natural to get confused over who does what and who to choose to visit. The common theme is that all these professionals are interested in mental health and are working to provide the conditions to alleviate the distress of their clients/patients.

Counsellors and psychotherapists have been trained specifically to work with people in distress and have gained their skills and techniques based on specific therapeutic approaches which are rooted in psychology.

Counsellors are dealing more with everyday life issues whereas psychotherapists are dealing with more in-depth mental health issues.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors specialised in the pathology of the human mind. They may or may not offer talking therapy alongside with the prescribed medication to alleviate the mental health issues of their patients.

Who needs to visit a counselor?

If you are feeling that your life circumstances are placing a burden on you and your usual methods of coping are not successful, you may benefit by talking it through with a counsellor.

What are the main issues people are seeking counselling for?

All sorts of relationships problems, loss of a loved one, loss of one’s role, grief and bereavement, traumatic life events, life circumstances changes, work-related problems, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, addictions, eating behaviour difficulties, medical related issues such as diagnosis and management of chronic or life-threatening illness and many more.

What are the main obstacles in seeking counselling?

The usual obstacles in seeking professional help are financial, time availability, doubt that counselling works, insecurity & fear about the process, difficulty in admitting that one needs help and lack of trust in the professional who may feel like a “stranger”.

The greatest hurdle one needs to overcome is to admit that one needs to seek outside help and to make the first appointment to meet in person with the counsellor.

What am I to expect on the first appointment?

It helps if you think of that first appointment as a meeting of two people: the person seeking help and the professional who is trained in providing a service that will help you help yourself.

You, as a client will be assessing whether you feel comfortable enough to be able to trust that person to work with your issue and the counsellor will be looking for a way to help you with your specific issue.

There will be a period of adjustment and this is normal and expected as in any new relationship. In the first appointments you should let the counsellor get to know you and your background a bit better, while at the same time you begin to get to know one another and start forming a working relationship built on trust.

I have just started counselling, how long will it take?

The duration of the counselling depends very much on the issue at hand. Counselling and psychotherapy are processes, and as processes they may take some time. There are no magic wands or magic solutions that work overnight. Usually the problems have taken some time to become unmanageable and therefore they will need some time to sort themselves out by some personal acknowledgements and potential re-adjustments. Two types of therapy are available: brief therapy aimed at specific issues and long-term therapeutic counselling/psychotherapy for more in-depth issues.

Do we need to meet face-to-face?

The main way to go about it is through face-to-face contact once a week for as long as it is necessary. For the people who live abroad or in rural areas or even when they travel a lot and they have difficulty gaining access to counselling services face-to-face, there is the option of distance counselling either via telephone or via Skype.

What if Greek is not my first language?

A bilingual service in both Greek and English is offered.