Psychotherapists are professionals who are specifically trained to relate to and treat people who are distressed. An integral part of the treatment is the relationship between the psychotherapist and the patient/client.

Psychotherapists utilise a variety of psychological methods and skills in an effort to alleviate personal suffering and to encourage change. They may practice in a public or private setting on a one-to-one basis, with couples or groups. They treat clients of all ages, including children.

See also, What is Psychotherapy?

The work of psychotherapy can involve:

  • feelings associated with loss
  • family crisis, including separation
  • life stage developmental problems
  • past trauma
  • abuse issues
  • relationship problems
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • phobias
  • obsessions
  • self-harm
  • addictions
  • any other emotional or psychological difficulty.

You can make direct contact with psychotherapists through the Find a Therapist section of this Web site. Another good place to start is to discuss the help you need with your GP, who can refer you.

We list all accredited psychotherapists who are members of ICP.

Your issue should also influence your choice so you can select someone perfect for your problem and nearby in our Find a Therapist section.

Of course personal recommendation, i.e. “word of mouth”, can also be a good way of choosing a therapist.

Many of our clients come to us through their G.P.s who can refer you, but this is not essential.

It means peace of mind that your therapist is at the top of their profession. Proof of this is that the ICP is the only Irish body that can accredit therapists to the European gold standard approved by the EAP, the European Association of Psychotherapy.

We have to rely on international standards of excellence as we work toward a State registration of the profession in Ireland.

In the current situation the ICP is a link to the most exacting standards in Europe.

A Code of Ethics and Practice and Complaints Procedure back up ICP therapists. Clients have no come back with therapists who do not belong to a recognised representative body

How does a psychotherapist differ from a counsellor?

Most obvious is the depth and length of education and training as seen in the chart below.

Counselling Psychotherapy
Prior Academic Study: N/A 3 yrs/1,800 hrs
Specific Training:
Theory/methodology 450 hrs 500 – 800 hrs
Clinical Practice 100 + 450 hrs  = 550 300 – 600 hrs
Personal Development/ Personal Therapeutic Experience 50 hrs 250 hrs
Supervision Minimum 65 hours of 1:1 plus group supervision in training: minimum 40 = 105 150 hrs
Minimum Time: 950 hrs + supervision hours / 3 years 3,200 hours / 7 years


  • The length of the requirement for personal therapy or equivalent reflective practice.
  • Psychotherapists are trained to work with deep-seated problems including mental illnesses and personality disorders.
  • Counselling can be a shorter therapy addressing adjustment difficulties, situational or personal problems.

On first contacting a psychotherapist it is quite acceptable to discuss the following issues either on the phone when making the appointment or (more usually) at the first session:

  • Therapist’s training, experience and accreditation
  • Therapist’s supervision
  • Fees and nature of payment
  • Duration and frequency of sessions

Each professional organisation with the Irish Council for Psychotherapy has a Code of Ethics and a complaints and disciplinary procedure. The Code of Ethics are the rules of practice that govern how each psychotherapist operates within the therapy process.

The Code of Ethics obliges the therapist to uphold a high standard of professional competence and personal conduct in their practice with their clients. It also includes other areas of their practice such as confidentiality, record keeping, fees and advertising.

Psychotherapy has a long tradition where some of the greatest minds (Freud, Jung) grappled with the complexities of the mind. As the discipline grew different branches emerged presenting different areas of specialty, for example Couple and Family Therapy.

Some of the disciplines take a slightly different approach to problems than others. So Cognitive Behavioural  Therapy takes an educational approach and focuses on teaching strategies and skills to resolve problems. 

Go to our Disciplines page to read all about the different approaches.

See above, What does membership of the ICP mean to me as a client?

You can obtain further information by contacting the Irish Council for Psychotherapy by phone, writing to us or reading more of the material on this website. We are also on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter. Each association has a contact person who will be able to give more information.

You can also contact the Council by using our online Contact Form