What are the differences between counselling, psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic counselling?

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) sees no evidence of any difference between the functions of counselling and psychotherapy. Some regard counselling as shorter-term work, with a focus on a specific issue and psychotherapy as a longer-term, more in depth exploration. Psychotherapeutic counselling therefore offers the flexibility to work short or longer term, depending on people’s individual needs.

All approaches are respectful, collaborative and exploratory, intended to enhance self awareness, resilience and wellbeing.

What is a humanistic approach?

A central theme of the humanistic approach is that it strives to provide people with a deeper understanding of who they are and what they feel, encouraging self-awareness and self-realisation, including awareness of experience itself, of emotional reactions, interactions with others and the possibilities of creating personal choices. Counsellors who work in a humanistic way are able to provide respectful, non-judgemental support so that someone can freely explore their whole life experience; past, present and future. 

The humanistic approach draws largely from existential and phenomenological philosophy.  While also informed by theories, such as Person-Centred, Gestalt, Focusing, Transactional Analysis, Solution-Focused and Mindfulness, it tends to be less ‘technique’-based than other orientations.

What can psychotherapeutic counselling help with?

Psychotherapeutic counselling is a personal journey and so the therapeutic work will be tailored to your individual needs. Some areas people may wish to explore include:

  • A sense that something isn’t quite right or that life doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it should
  • Getting through a difficult time
  • Someone to talk to
  • Feeling lonely or alone
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Self harm
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Tearfulness
  • A sense of detachment
  • Relationship difficulties or break up
  • Panic
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling that something is ‘missing’
  • Bereavement
  • Loss (including loss of a pet)
  • Low energy or exhaustion
  • Identity (including coming to terms with a diagnosis, illness or disability)
  • Addictions (i.e., alcohol, drugs, food, sex, love, gambling)
  • Difficult or traumatic experiences

How confidential are sessions?

In accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, psychotherapeutic counselling sessions are strictly confidential except under the following circumstances:

1. Your counsellor will discuss their work, from time to time, with a qualified Clinical Supervisor and Peer Supervisor. Your identity is not revealed and all supervisors are also bound by the BACP’s Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions.
Engaging in clinical supervision is a BACP requirement and standard practice for all credible counsellors.

2. Your counsellor reserves the right to break confidentiality and may have a duty of care to do so under the following circumstances:

  • If they believe there is a serious risk of harm, either to yourself or others
  • Where there are concerns about the welfare of adults who have care and support needs, or children.
  • Where knowledge of, or involvement in acts of terrorism, money laundering or drug trafficking is inferred.
  • If required by subpoena or court order.

How is your personal data processed and stored?

GDPR Privacy Statement for Clarity Counselling

Your personal information is processed to enable Clarity Counselling to provide psychotherapeutic counselling services to you, to arrange appointments with you and to maintain records. All personal information is processed and stored in accordance with BACP and GDPR guidelines and Clarity Counselling is registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Type/classes of information processed

Clarity Counselling processes information relevant to the above reasons/purposes. This information may include:

  • personal details
  • family details
  • lifestyle and social circumstances
  • services
  • financial details
  • employment and education details

Clarity Counselling also process sensitive classes of information that may include:

  • physical or mental health details
  • sexual life
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • religious or other beliefs of a similar nature
  • offences and alleged offences

Who the information may be shared with

In the event there are concerns for your safety or that of others, Clarity Counselling may have a duty of care to share your personal information with other services, as outlined under ‘How Confidential Are Sessions?‘ above. This will always be discussed at the start of therapy and outlined in your contract. Where this is necessary Clarity Counselling is required to comply with all aspects of the BACP Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions and GDPR and ICO guidelines.

The services or professionals Clarity Counselling may have a duty of care to share information with might include:

  • healthcare professionals (e.g., your GP)
  • clinical supervisor (Please note, in the event your counsellor is unable to work or contact you due to serious ill health or death, their clinical supervisor may access your records in order to contact you and protect your data in accordance with GDPR and BACP guidelines)
  • peer supervisor
  • statutory services (e.g., where there are concerns about the welfare of adults who have care and support needs, or children, or where knowledge of or involvement in acts of terrorism, money laundering or drug trafficking is inferred)
  • court of law (e.g., if required by subpoena or court order)


Records are kept in accordance with British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP), the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and Data Protection Act (DPA) guidelines.

For the purposes of protecting client confidentiality, session notes are kept only for the duration of therapy and destroyed (confidentially shredded) when therapy comes to an end. Separate business records of client’s contact and transaction details, contracts and appointment dates shall be confidentially stored for at least 7 years following the last occasion on which treatment was given, in line with Balens Health Professionals Policy, underwritten by Zurich Insurance plc client.