Common Terms Used in Counselling

Here we have put together a list of some of the most common terms used in counselling and therapy, although this list is not 100% comprehensive it may help you on your journey towards good mental health. The list has been put together by the UK’s largest online mental health care clinic “The One Stop Psychotherapy Shop” who provide online video counselling to over 2000 clients every month.

  1. Abuse: Rude, hurtful, disrespectful and harmful use of another. It includes disregarding their personal boundaries and their inherent rights as an individual. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, sexual or spiritual.
  2. Acceptance: Valuing a person for who and what they are – regardless of what they’ve thought, said or done.
  3. Acting out: Behaviour which reveals a person’s thoughts, feelings, inner conflicts and core beliefs.
  4. Active listening: This is conveying that you’ve heard and understood the client’s situation, heartache and pain. It includes asking questions to fill in missing pieces, or to clarify uncertainties and ambiguities.
  5. Addiction: Any activity, behaviour or substance that becomes an obsession, creates a dependency and leads to withdrawal if the individual is preventing from engaging in/ using it.
  6. Affect: Feelings and emotions that are displayed through body language.
  7. Alters: The individual and distinct personalities of an individual with Dissociative Personality Disorder.
  8. Anxiety: Feelings of nervousness.
  9. Anger: A powerful emotion related to frustration of goals, abuse, hurt or disrespect of personal boundaries.
  10. Boundaries: Where one person ends and another begins – with respect to physical, emotional and mental space.
  11. 11. Co-dependency: Caring about, and assuming responsibility for another person – beyond that which is healthy and legitimate – and to the detriment of your own needs.
  12. Conditional love: This is where love is dependent on the person acting in ways that another approves of. It is, therefore, false love.
  13. Counter-transference: When the counsellor or therapists relates to the client as if they were someone in their own personal life (such as a parent, child or spouse) – because the client reminds them of that person.
  14. Defence mechanism: Unconscious coping strategies that enable the person to deal with pain and trauma.
  15. Dependence: An inappropriate feeling of need for a substance or person.
  16. Depression: There are numerous types of clinical depression. Each includes a component of overwhelming sadness or entrenched low mood.
  17. Empathy: The ability to put on another’s shoes, and to experience and walk around in their world, as if you were that person.
  18. Enmeshed: Overly close or smothering boundaries.
  19. Immediacy: The counsellor’s ability to use the present situation, and what is happening between the counsellor and client, to better understand the client and their issues.
  20. Inferiority: The feeling of being deficient or inadequate.
  21. Paranoia: Irrational and excessive fear of being watched or evaluated.
  22. Projection: A defence mechanism where the blame is shifted from ourselves to another.
  23. Psychotherapy: A more in-depth form of counselling which searches for origins of problems in the person past.
  24. Reflecting back content: Paraphrasing what the client has just said.
  25. Reflecting back feelings: Picking up on and verbalising the covert or overt emotions of the client.
  26. Repression: A defence mechanism which pushes unacceptable thoughts and wishes out of the conscious mind. These then become buried in the person’s subconscious.
  27. Self-concept: The mental image we have of ourselves.
  28. Self-esteem: The extent to which a person cares about, and values, themselves.
  29. Subconscious: Thoughts and memories which are inaccessible because they buried below conscious awareness.
  30. Summarising: Providing a brief and concise representation of the main points or ideas shared.
  31. Transference: Where the client views or treats the counsellor as if they were someone else – someone who is a significant person in their life (such as a parent or other authority figure).
  32. Unconditional love: Loving and valuing a person no matter what they say or do.

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