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Counseling and psychotherapy

Everything you need to know about psychotherapy (page 12/15)

Differentiation between psychological counseling and psychotherapy

Advice is usually a face-to-face conversation with the aim of providing professional support to clients in solving a specific problem. Consultations are now being held on the phone or online, as well as by e-mail.

Psychological and psychosocial counselors support people when they have to solve current problems, suffer from an acute crisis or want to learn certain skills in order to get through life better overall.

There are counselors and counseling centers that specialize in certain fields of work, for example couple and parenting counseling or drug and addiction counseling. The range of counseling offers is very wide and can cover almost every area of ​​life: counselors support their clients with life counseling, coaching, various therapies such as sociotherapy, in which the mentally ill are supported to reintegrate themselves better into life, pastoral care or psychological counseling, Finding answers to personal life questions or developing skills to better participate in life. It is not always possible to clearly distinguish it from psychotherapy, neither with regard to the topics that are dealt with nor the methods that the counselor uses.

In contrast to psychotherapy, however, counseling services may not treat mental disorders with an illness value, nor may diagnoses be made. Mental disorders are only accompanied by support, for example in the form of sociotherapy. In principle, consultants do not work psychotherapeutically or are not allowed to.

That is why the costs for a consultation are not covered by either the statutory or private health insurances. Depending on the area of ​​life in which you seek advice, you may be able to claim the costs for tax purposes. Authorities, such as the employment agency, sometimes also prescribe psychosocial counseling. In these cases, the authority bears the consulting costs.

What is psychological counseling?

If a client would like to learn how to better deal with mostly specific conflicts or life issues, psychological counseling can help him, for example, to learn to differentiate himself better or to be able to assert himself.
A client can learn, for example, not to agree to a suggestion so quickly if he does not want to, by the advisor teaching him techniques to create a delay between stimulus (request) and reaction (acceptance). The counselor uses coaching methods or intervention techniques from therapeutic schools such as behavioral therapy or systemic therapy, even if the client is not being treated psychotherapeutically.

What is psychosocial counseling?

A distinction is made between psychological and psychosocial counselors, although the boundaries between these two professional fields can be very fluid.
Psychosocial counseling is easier to distinguish from psychotherapy than psychological counseling. One usually speaks of psychosocial counseling when it comes to supporting a client in challenging life situations in such a way that he can deal with it more competently. For example, psychosocial counselors provide expert support to clients with mental illnesses or stressful diagnoses such as cancer. Psychosocial counselors work in private practices, but also in a wide variety of institutions, for example in the youth welfare office, in the penal system or in clinics.

What qualifications do consultants have?

There are many different counseling offers in Germany. Psychological and psychosocial counseling uses many different psychological methods. In both cases, the training path is not regulated by law. There is a wide range of providers, although the quality of the training varies widely. There are also state-certified courses as psychological consultants or personal coaches that comply with the Recognition and Admission Ordinance for Continuing Education (AZWV).

Quite a few consultants have completed a university degree in psychology, social work or theology.

The job titles “Diplom-Psychologe”, “Dipl.-Psych.”, “Psychologe M.Sc.” (Master of Science) can give an indication of the professional qualifications of the consultant. Because these terms are protected by law and may only be used if someone has completed a degree in psychology.

Often qualified pedagogues, qualified social pedagogues or qualified social workers are also active in the field of psychological counseling. They have completed a social science degree, in which, however, psychological specialist knowledge was imparted less comprehensively.

For some time now there has also been a Master's degree in Psychosocial Counseling and Therapy in Social Work. This master’s degree can be completed at five universities in Germany; the prerequisite is a bachelor’s degree in social pedagogy, nursing science, psychology or a similar social science course. It is also possible to complete this course as a distance learning course or in a combination of distance and face-to-face learning as a part-time job.

Membership in professional association as a guide

Membership in a professional association can provide information that the consultant is committed to a specific professional ethos and regularly takes part in further training. Certificates that are awarded by such professional associations indicate that certain quality standards, such as the content and duration of the training, the prerequisites for participation or the completion modalities, have been met during training or further training. However, these may vary depending on the association or training institute.