Psychotherapy / Counseling
First off, psychotherapy and counseling are basically the same thing. Some argue that counseling doesn’t go as deep or lasts as long as psychotherapy. Since a trained psychotherapist can do both and has the necessary knowledge to decide what is best for you, the difference isn’t that important.
A simple definition of psychotherapy would be the treatment of mental illness and emotional distress. The question of how this is done is where no simple definition will do. Today, most therapies can be reduced into two very broad categories: Analytical Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Both types of psychotherapy use a lot of spoken communication. The way the spoken communication is carried out is again from therapy to therapy and psychotherapist to psychotherapist different. Here too we could generalize and say that the two main therapy types differ in that analytic therapists are more passive, cognitive behaviorists more active. Another factor that distinguishes the schools of therapy would be the main focus of their intervention. In CBT, the main emphasis is placed on the here and now and it is problem solution orientated. Analysis on the other hand, seeks to uncover conflicts that are in the subconscious. CBT is more active; for example, CBT gives homework assignments. A homework assignment can be anything from reading a book, keeping a diary to singing in the streets (shame attacking). Homework assignments help integrate the theoretical knowledge that was learned in the therapy session; thereby, speeding up the process.
So, which therapy is right for you? This is a very difficult question that basically no one except yourself can answer. As a general guideline: psychoanalysis is often measured in years instead of hours; is generally beneficial for deep-seeded-personality disorders and more introverted persons. CBT is a short term therapy, it concentrates on specific problems of affect and behavior and requires the client to be more active, just like the therapist. As far as evidence-based results are concerned, both schools have conducted numerous studies and can both be seen as effective.
For more information about CBT, please read the next section on REBT.