Psychosocial counselling is a trauma informed approach to understanding and overcoming all forms of distress and overwhelm.
It is fundamentally different from many other types of psychotherapy which rely on technical processes as it takes full account of how an individual has made meanings from their own unique life experiences and the social contexts in which they grew-up.
The focus of the collaboration that takes place between the counsellor and the client is on what has happened to a person during their life course and how those experiences have influenced the various behaviours that might be problematic in the current context.
This context-based approach sits in stark contrast to bio-medical, psychiatric perspective in which a persons life experiences are discounted and difficult emotional experiences are regarded as ‘faults’ in the person’s brain chemistry regardless of what has happened to them.
Psychosocial Counselling Structure
The psychosocial counselling structure is as flexible as it needs to be based on the needs of the client. However, there will usually be a reasonably incremental approach which is developed collaboratively with the goal of ‘recovery’ from the current distress.
Primary Phase – Formulation
Development of a life history in which the counsellor and client discuss the experiences that may have led to safety behaviours or avoidance strategies designed to help the client cope with those experiences.
This is known as a formulation and is the opposite of diagnosis, a bio-psychiatric-medical approach which classifies the current behavioural difficulties as pathological problems or illnesses.
Here at Lee Psychology we develop formulations using the Power Threat Meaning Framework.
Secondary Phase – Exploration and Change
The second phase of psychosocial counselling aims to examine which of the adaptations (which have traditionally been labelled as ‘symptoms’) the client is currently experiencing are based on beliefs, values and meanings that may no longer hold any validity.
We describe these ‘coping’ behaviours as post coherent adaptations because whilst they were undoubtedly coherent and logical at the time they were devised, they may no longer have the same validity.
Once identified, there are a number of approaches that can be used to help in the modification of these adaptations including Cognitive Reconstruction (CORE), Psychoanalysis and hypnosis-based counselling.
Tertiary Phase – Recovery & Sustainability
The final phase of psychosocial counselling is in the habituation and normalisation of new and adaptive ways of coping combined with the extinction of any post coherent adaptations.
The counsellors role here is to assess and observe whether or not the client is using new knowledge and behavioural responses in more adaptive ways and to point out any old patterns of behaviour that may still persist which tend to maintain distress.
Is There A Time-Frame?
Whilst there is an obvious duty-of-care to ensure that people do not become overly dependent on the counselling process or counsellor for protracted and unnecessary periods of time, it is also important to note that every human being is unique, has unique experiences and will learn to adapt at differing rates.
Some people may find that they are able to overcome, manage or cope with their levels of distress in as little as 10 weeks (based on weekly sessions) whilst others may require much more time to make changes.
Because of this subjective variability, it is our view that the client is best-placed to determine the time-frame for their recovery process and as such, it makes little sense to argue for any number of sessions.
Much will also depend on the current level of distress as well as the degree of difficulty that a person has experienced during their lives, including factors such as culture, ethnicity, socio-economic settings, intersectionality, exposure to trauma and so on.
Ready to Begin a New Journey?
If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from your emotional distress or mental health difficulties then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular problems and the potential solutions in a safe and confidential environment without you having to commit to any counselling programmes or sessions going forward.
It is our view that not only do you need to decide whether the Lee Psychology approach suits who you are and what you have been through, but also whether or not you feel you will be able to work effectively with us as individuals.
To arrange your free initial consultation please contact: