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Counselling or Psychotherapy?

Counselling or/ and Psychotherapy?

Should I see Counsellor or Psychotherapist?

Do you wonder if you should seek counselling or psychotherapy? What is the difference between them? 


Counselling is simply a talk therapy or assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems. However, for easy differentiation, we often use counselling to describe a shorter-duration therapy, i.e. less than 20 sessions to process present and future concerns. On the other hand, psychotherapy takes at least 20 sessions, and it involves processing past issues, e.g. childhood trauma and past experiences that might contribute to present-day problems. Psychotherapists are either counsellors or psychologists with many years of experience and have received training for past processing issues. Title aside, it is essential to check the training and background of the counsellor or the psychotherapist that you consult.

Brief Therapy or Psychotherapy?

Therapy means a "treatment to relieve or heal". There are short-term (brief) therapy and long term (psychotherapy).

Brief therapy is short-term counselling to process the current problem without exploring the underlying issues. Sometimes, brief therapy is just a single session of counselling to process decision making. However, brief therapy frequently takes eight sessions or more in most cases. 


There are various therapy modalities. E.g. Solution Focus Brief Therapy (SFBT) usually takes about eight sessions, while Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may take about 20 sessions. Both therapies focus on fixing the current issues and are often referred to as brief therapy. In contrast, brief psychodynamic therapy may take 25 sessions because it focuses on uncovering the underlying issues that contribute to the present-day challenges. Therefore, Brief Psychodynamic Therapy is not a brief therapy despite its name.

Sometimes, you may present an issue that may seem resolvable in a few sessions. However, you discover through processing that the problems are a manifestation of more profound challenges from the past. The counsellor may suggest a longer-term treatment, and it is your decision if you would like to uncover the underlying cause in more in-depth.


For a more effective treatment, we recommend that you give yourself enough time to develop a therapeutic relationship with your counsellor and process the issues you face adequately. 

What about Trauma Therapy?

Trauma Therapy is simply counselling or psychotherapy sessions that focus on processing trauma. Trauma therapists are simply counsellors or psychotherapists who have attended trauma-related training. 


There has been an increase in modalities that claims to be trauma therapy in recent years. However, some of these modalities often focus only on helping the clients understand what happened and quickly move on without treating the causes. These modalities are also not grounded in research. The research-validated trauma treatments include EMDR, TF-CBT and a few other modalities.

If you seek trauma therapy, it is helpful to verify if the therapist has in-depth knowledge of various trauma modalities for your psychological and emotional safety. For childhood trauma therapy, it will be beneficial if the therapist is knowledgeable in psychodynamic theories. The reason is that many traumatic childhood experiences are rooted in psychodynamic and attachment issues. 

Counsellor or Psychotherapist?

Whether you seek a counsellor or psychotherapist, we recommend seeking a therapist registered with a recognised professional body. By being registered with a recognised institution, the therapist has undergone an approved training programme and is accountable for adhering to professional ethics.


The Singapore Association of Counselling (SAC) is the professional body representing counsellors and psychotherapists. 


A SAC Registered counsellor has at least two years of experience and clocked 600 clinical hours with a minimum of 60 clinical supervision hours. A SAC Registered Clinical Supervisor has at least five years of experience and clocked 1500 clinical hours and 100 clinical supervision hours. 


The Psychological Society (SPS) is the organisation that promotes the practice of psychology in Singapore, and those who are seeking a psychologist might want to verify if the psychologist is a registered member of SPS. 


Those who seek specific therapy like EMDR may want to verify if the EMDR therapist is a certified EMDR practitioner or at least a member of an EMDR institute.

At Restoring Peace, we provide various therapy services, from brief therapy to psychotherapy, to help you with your challenges. For more information, contact us at 88891848 / 94849067 or email

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