Therapy, Psychotherapy or Counseling
We prefer to use the terms "counseling" and "psychotherapy for the processes we use with people. Counseling implies a joint problem-solving approach where we help you find the answers that are waiting for your discovery. That doesn't mean we are just along for the ride. If you have studied any subject with a skilled teacher you know that often, even though the information is just sitting there, without the guidance of a skilled instructor it will remain undiscovered. Counseling is a mutual approach which we undertake as a team.
Therapy has a different implication. Therapy suggests that a skilled "healer" heals your wounds by doing something magical to you. It is a more medical term and appropriate for fixing up a broken arm or an ulcer. The therapist is a purveyor of splints, Bandaids or medications. A stint of therapy leaves you with less power over your life, not more. The therapist has the power. When you next have a problem, you have to come back to the "therapist" to get the procedure–the magic pill.
In counseling we try to help you learn, not only the solution to the immediate problem but, also a way of approaching other emotional problems so that you have more power to solve your own problems.
On the other hand the full word "psychotherapy" has a different connotation. The origin of psychotherapy is from Greek mythology. Psyche was a gorgeous human woman. The god, Eros, fell in love with her. Though she was a human, she responded in turn. They had to overcome tremendous obstacles put in their way by Eros' mother, Aphrodite, but they succeeded and were wed. As a wedding gift, she gave to Eros, the human spirit. Zeus was happy and blessed the couple by giving Psyche immortality. (This is a much abbreviated version, of course.) So that suggests that "psychotherapy" is not really about mental illness, but rather the cure of the human spirit. Pastoral Psychotherapy is the perfect term for what we do.
Of course therapy is primarilly a medical word used by all kinds of adjunctive medical professionals.
We became trapped with the "therapy" word because of the strong hierarchical nature of the medical establishment. Also, "therapy" sounds so much more scientific than "counseling." Finally, when stores have "carpet counselors" and "used car counselors," our profession had to find another word.
There are many good counselors who call themselves "therapists, or psychologists." Of course there are others who are less skillful.
We think it important that we believe that there is an important spiritual dimension to emotional and behavioral problems. By spiritual we don't mean religious, but when we are struggling with our emotional upsets we are also struggling with our spirit. If we find peace with our soul or spirit that is reflected in our emotional life as well.
For convention's sake we will have to use the word "therapy" in certain contexts because that's the word in common use, but we don't think it is really the correct word. It would be better to always use the whole words, "counseling" and "psychotherapy," never just "therapy" alone.