Modalities in Counselling & Psychotherapy

About the different modalities in Counselling and Psychotherapy

There are two excellent sources for an introduction to counselling and psychotherapy. They are the websites of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy BACP and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy UKCP.

We have reproduced the information from the sections that are relevant to the modalities that the counsellors and psychotherapists working at the therapy centre work from.

Before we do that we would like to mention a few other factors you should consider when entering therapy.

Firstly, it is important to check that any therapist you decide to see is fully qualified. No therapist should ever be reluctant to show you evidence of their qualifications and membership of their professional body.

A major factor in therapy working is that you must be entering therapy freely and that it is your own choice. As well as this it is important to realise that all therapists are unique and will work differently even if they have trained within the same modality. For this reason it is possible that the first therapist you see may not be the best therapist for you to work with.

Take your time in the first session or first few sessions to consider how you feel with the therapist. Do you feel comfortable with her/him? Do you feel they are someone you can really be yourself with in time? If not, try another therapist. It’s ok to see several therapists for an initial consultation if that is what it takes for you to feel comfortable.

So for some initial information on the modalities our therapists have trained within:


Existential psychotherapy is centred upon supporting the client to make sense of life through the willingness to face it and its problems. The existentialist belief is that life has no essential or predetermined meaning, the individual is entirely free and ultimately responsible, so meaning has to be found or created. This can trigger feelings of meaninglessness in life, thus the therapy explores the client’s experience of the human condition and aims to clarify the individual’s understanding of values and beliefs, explicitly naming what has previously been left unspoken. The client is supported in living more authentically and purposefully, whilst accepting the limitations and contradictions of what it is to be human.

As a movement existentialism began in the 19th Century with philosophers Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. As a therapy it is regarded as a serious enquiry into what it means to be human, often involving the painful process of squarely facing up to aspects of humanity that are ordinarily avoided and evaded. Existentialist therapists believe that such in depth explorations can ultimately bring great strength and joy.

Humanistic Integrative

Humanistic integrative psychotherapy has its roots in humanistic philosophies and aims to work with a full range of influences to encourage the development of the individual, their relationship to others and society.

Humanistic integrative psychotherapy relies upon relationship-based, dialogical and experiential methods to facilitate the integration of affective, cognitive, behavioural, physiological and the transpersonal dimensions of the individual. Both the client and the psychotherapist are actively engaged in shaping the processes of assessment, intervention and evaluation of outcomes. This approach stresses the importance of the individual’s capacities for self-regulation, self-actualisation, responsibility and choice, which underpin the process of change; the psychotherapist works with the client to realise these potentials. Psychotherapists also take into consideration the impact of the external world upon the internal world of the client to explore the significance of social, cultural and political realms of experience.

Humanistic integrative psychotherapy is available in a range of settings in the public, private and voluntary sectors and benefits individuals, couples, children, families, groups and organisations.


Jungian analysis is a specialised form of psychotherapy which works with the unconscious. The Jungian analyst and the client work together to expand the client’s consciousness in order to move toward psychological balance, harmony and wholeness. Jungian Analysis examines deep motivations within the clients psyche, his thoughts and actions which lie beneath conscious awareness. The Jungian analyst will focus on the process of what happens within sessions, in addition to the experience of the inner and outer happenings of the client’s life, to achieve deeper and more long lasting changes in the personality. At the heart of Jungian Analysis is the belief that realignment of conscious and unconscious aspects of the personality, with an ensuing creation of new values and purpose, brings relief and meaning to psychological suffering and pain.

Jung’s approach to psychology has been profoundly influential in all aspects of countercultural movements across Europe and the United States since the 1960s. His emphasis on understanding our motivation through the psyche, facilitated through the exploration of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy have shaped how we look at life today. Jung was trained as a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician, but much of his life’s work was centred upon exploring the realms of Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts. He wrote extensively on the concept of archetypes, synchronicity and the collective unconscious.


Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a term that encompasses therapy of an analytical nature; essentially it is a form of depth psychology that focuses on the unconscious and past experiences, to determine current behaviour. Generally psychodynamic psychotherapists adhere to the theories and teaching of Freud and his followers. But psychodynamic therapy also draws upon techniques from a variety of sources, including the ideas of various other luminaries including Jung and Adler.

The client is encouraged to talk about childhood relationships with parents and other significant people, the primary focus being to reveal the unconscious content of a client’s psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. The therapist endeavors to keep his own personality out of the picture, in essence becoming a blank canvas onto which the client can transfer and project deep feelings about themselves, parents and other significant players in their life. The therapist remains focused on the dynamics between the client and the therapist.

Psychodynamic therapy tends to be less intensive and briefer than psychoanalysis, and also relies more on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist than do other forms of depth psychology. It is a focus that has been used in individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, family therapy, and to understand and work with institutional and organisational contexts.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) developed out of behaviour modification, cognitive therapy, and rational emotive behaviour therapy, and combines cognitive and behavioural techniques.

CBT is psychotherapy based on cognitions, assumptions, beliefs and behaviours, which aims to influence negative emotions relating to inaccurate appraisal of events. Therapeutic techniques vary to accommodate individual clients or issues but commonly include: keeping a diary of significant events and associated feelings, thoughts and behaviours; questioning and testing cognitions, assumptions, evaluations and beliefs that might be unhelpful and unrealistic; gradually facing activities which may have been avoided; trying out new ways of behaving and reacting. Relaxation and distraction techniques are also commonly used.

CBT is sometimes used with groups of people as well as individuals, and the techniques are often adapted for self-help manuals.