For anyone seeking help for mental or emotional distress, understanding the various professions can be rather confusing . There is a range of professions, each with different methods and styles. Below is a very brief outline of the distinctions between the various professions in NZ. The therapists on this site offer both counselling and psychotherapeutic approaches
Psychotherapy is deeply respectful of every person's unique inner mental and emotional life. The focus of psychotherapy is discovering unconscious foundations of unhelpful patterns and using these insights to build new skills and capacities. The work tends to focus on exploring the influences of childhood on our relationships with each other and the world. These influences are made meaningful in the light of our current relationship dynamics including those with the therapist. As such it has faith in the potential for self-development and healing given the conditions of an ongoing, empathic and secure relationship between therapist and client. Like all health professionals, psychotherapists practice under the HPCAA (Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act). Psychotherapists must be registered with PBANZ (Psychotherapy Board of Aotearoa New Zealand).
There is a large overlap between the work of counsellors and psychotherapists. There is no clear distinction between the two professions; however, they do tend to have different training, different theoretical emphasis and are governed by different professional bodies. Counsellors have a wide range of training, from brief training such as volunteers for phone line counselling through to post graduate qualifications. While many counsellors work long term and in-depth, many tend to work shorter term and with more focus on the present and future than the past. There are some professional bodies, NZAC (NZ Association of Counsellors) and the NZACC (NZ Association of Christian Counsellors) but currently no government registration requirements.
Psychoanalysts are psychotherapists with a traditional Freudian training.
Psychiatrists are doctors with specialist training in mental illness. They predominantly offer medication, but some combine this with psychotherapy. Only doctors or psychiatrists can prescribe medication (i.e. anti-depressants).
Clinical psychologists normally have a Masters degree in psychology and postgraduate training in clinical psychology. They are not doctors and cannot prescribe medication. However, they have expertise in testing, assessment and diagnosis. Their usual treatment approach is called CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). CBT focuses on the influence of thoughts (cognition) on feelings and behaviour. Their professional body is the NZ Psychological Association, and must be registered with the NZ Psychologists Board.