One of the differences usually identified between counselling and psychotherapy relates to the issue of length of treatment. In general, psychotherapy is more likely to be long-term and/or open-ended. Counselling is often short-term and/or time-limited. It is useful to be clear that there are two different elements at play here, the actual length of time and the question as to whether there is a set time frame before the work starts. Open-ended work can be short-term, and long-term work can be time-limited, as in a contract for 2 years of psychotherapy. There can of course also be short-term time-limited work, for example if what is offered is 6 sessions of counselling. Different problems and opportunities arise with each kind. There are differences in the approach to issues of time between the trainings for psychotherapy and counselling. This has an effect on the mind-set of psychotherapists and counsellors, particularly at the start of their careers. In psychoanalytic psychotherapy trainings there is a requirement to see a certain number of patients for a certain time. Trainees typically have to see patients regularly for the 18 months or 2 years before being eligible for qualification. Even a small shortfall can mean that that work may not count towards the clinical requirement and keeping the therapy going can feel like an end in itself.
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