Mental Healthcare in English and German

Licensed Counselling and Psychotherapy

Individual Counselling
Counselling session at WISH Mindscience, 1140 Vienna, with Kevin J. Hall, MSc, licensed psychotherapist, ACC/IOBC Coach

About counselling and psychotherapy

Constellation work with a so-called "family" or "system board"
Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that refer to a range of services that aim to reduce psychological distress, enhance wellbeing and improve the quality of life. Clients/patients are generally supported with a mixture of conversational techniques, exercises (relaxation, imagination, visualization etc.) and psychoeducation. Counselling and psychotherapy professionals can be expected to work with scientifically proven methods for which an evidence base exists that they can help with mental health issues and interpersonal problems.

The distinction between a counsellor and a psychotherapist is a blurred one as they both work in a similar fashion to help their clients. In Austria the difference can be noted by the job description (licence) and education of the person providing the service. A counsellor (referred to as a Lebens- und Sozialberater) will generally have completed training lasting around 2,5 years (750 hours theory and practice) in order to obtain their licence whereas the training which a psychotherapist undergoes lasts a minimum of 5-7 years (3000 hours of theory and practice). The focus and scope of the training also differs in that counsellors are not required/allowed to work with people with mental health conditions. If you suspect your symptoms are acute or serious then you should seek help from a psychotherapist rather than a counsellor as you have the guarantee that they are appropriately trained and legally licenced to deal with your issues. It is also worth checking to see if the psychotherapist has expertise and/or further qualifications in dealing with your symptoms/problem area.

A "timeline" with stations is brought to life in the therapy room

Psychotherapists and counsellors are also trained in terms of the theoretical models and techniques they employ in many different ways. If you take a look out there at the sorts of psychotherapy and counselling on offer you will find a large (and maybe even confusing) variety of terms. Practitioners claim to offer psychoanalysis, behavioural therapy (of which CBT is perhaps the most well-known variant), client-centred therapy, hypnotherapy, systemic therapy, transactional analysis, and the list goes on and on! Some psychotherapists and counsellors, like myself, even work with a number of methods. I work for instance with methods and techniques from systemic family therapy, emotionally focussed therapy  and hypnotherapy/clinical hypnosis.

This diversity is understandably confusing for the consumer and I am frequently asked by friends and acquaintances which school of psychotherapy or counselling is good for what. The fact of the matter is that psychotherapy research consistently shows that the relationship between the psychotherapist or counsellor and client is one of the most significant factors. Indeed studies claim that the relationship contributes to 40% of the therapy/counselling outcome. Moreover technical factors such as which methods the theoretical models are employed by the psychotherapist or counsellor are said to account for only 10% of the therapy/counselling outcome.

In summary your best bet as a layman is to choose a psychotherapist or counsellor on the basis of how likeable, trustworthy, reliable and competent they appear to you and not on the basis of trying to match your needs to a specific technical approach or theoretical school of thought.

How and when can counselling and psychotherapy help?

Counselling and psychotherapy can help not just with mental health issues but also in times of crisis and when significant relationships come under pressure. There is a good body of scientific evidence to back up the claim that counselling and psychotherapy are effective in dealing with such issues and in helping to improve quality of life.

The question is sometimes asked as of which point in time it becomes advisable to seek out support from a counsellor or psychotherapist. I personally think that if you are asking this question then it is time. Another answer to this question would be to think about it as follows: normally our psyches are well equipped to deal with crises and difficulties. We find ways of dealing with our problems and after a while we even forget that we even had them. There are times however when neither our own attempts to solve our problems nor the comfort and support of family members, partners and friends seem to work. We start to mull the same things over again and again, we may even not feel understood and we can start to feel frustrated, depressed or angry. In times like this it is difficult to find an inner balance again. If you find that this description partially of fully applies to you then you would be well advised to seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist.

If you suffering from the aftermath of traumatic experiences (e.g. experiences involving sexual and physical abuse, catastrophes and accidents etc.), chronic anxiety or panic, depression or more serious mental health issues then this is a clear indication for psychotherapy. If you are thinking about taking your own life or chronically harming yourself then you should additionally seek out help from a psychiatrist as soon as possible. 

Table in psychotherapy room
Talking about difficulties with a professional can help

Topics for Counselling and Psychotherapy

I think it can be said that counselling and psychotherapy can (theoretically) help with any issue which affects mental well-being and in turn quality of life. It is therefore not possible to identify and list every topic here which counsellors and psychotherapists work with. The following is a list of those topics which are of particular interest to me and/or with which clients come to me most frequently. Clicking on the respective topic to read more.

Conflict and communication difficulties can create tension and feelings of helpless. Bullying, intimidation, anger and aggression can impact our sense self-worth and we may even feel victimised and disempowered. Sometimes we also struggle to control our own anger and aggression and treat others in a fashion we do not feel proud of. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you to learn to regulate your emotions, become more assertive and recognise underlying interactional patterns which you have unconsciously become a part of.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result after experiencing an event which is so disturbing that the world does not seem the same again afterwards. Examples of such events are war, serious accidents, sudden and significant loss, sexual or physical abuse, assault, catastrophe etc. Commonly occuring symptoms are so-called flashbacks (vivid recollections) of the traumatic event, being flooded with emotion, irritability, panic, anxiety and depression. A wide variety of psychsomatic symptoms can also develop from headaches and gastrointestinal disorders through to dissociative disorders such as losing feeling in body parts or even having “out of body” experiences. If you are suffering from PTSD then it is highly recommended that you seek help from a psychotherapist trained in trauma therapy.
Almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives the stress of an emotional break-up and the difficulties in readjusting to being alone. Some people have a perpetual problem or even fear of being and living alone and/or a sense of feeling unable to cope without a partner. Counselling and therapy can be useful here to learn to come to terms with loss, to learn to enjoy life as a single person and to reflect on choice of partners in order to increase the chancee of having a healthy and satisfying relationship.
People can become not only addicted to substances such as alcohol, recreational and prescription drugs, nicotine and sugar etc. but also to activities such as shopping gambling, looking at pronography and sex etc. The reasons for this are varied and usually there is more than one behind any addictive behaviour. Opportunity and possibility to participate in the activity/consumption, stress factors, family and societal attitudes, personal tendancies towards dependancy in relationships and traumatic experiences in the past can all contribute to the addiction cycle. Psychotherapy can help you to recognise the driving factors behind your addiction, to learn to break the addiction cycle and to develop alternatives to acting out.
Toggle Content
Depression is Usually indicated where one or more of the following symptoms are present: a reduced sense of self-worth, self-doubt and feelings of insufficiency, existential fears/doubts, unhappiness and lack of hope, feelings that current problems are insurmountable, listlessness and lack of energy, difficulties in concentrating, nightmares and sleeping problems. Psychotherapy can help to relieve these symptoms by building up interpersonal and mental ressources and providing insights into the mechanisms behing the depression.
A burnout cycle is usually characterised by the presence of multiple of the following symptoms: feelings of being overwehlmed by stress/pressure/tension, emotional/mental exhaustion, disillusionment, anxiety and panic, irritabilty and anger during or after phases of chronic stress, sleeping difficulties, difficulties relaxing and switching off, turning to alcohol/drugs in order to relax, withdrawal from leisure activities, social and family life. Counselling and psychotherapy can help to interrupt and stop the process of burnout causing further damage and provide assistance for people already severely affected. Importance is placed on learning to deal with stress, pressure and conflict and developing a lifestyle which includes time for leisure, relaxation and physical and mental regeneration.
Sleeping problems and disorders come in various forms: difficulties in falling asleep and/or getting a good (refreshing) night’s sleep, suffering from frequent or disturbing nightmares and feeling constantly tired or exhausted are examples of ways in which sleeping problems manifest themselves. These difficulties frequently occur as a result of psychological stress. Sometimes people aware of this, such as when they lie awake at night ruminating about things and sometimes it is not so evident. That which we have done are best to ignore but is bothering us nonetheless can emerge within our dreams while we sleep. Psychotherapy and counselling can help you to reflect and work through issues which are the source of stress. They can also equip you with better strategies for having a good nights sleep, such as unwinding, relaxing and preparing well for sleep and learning to switch off whilst relaxing and when you are in bed.
Panic attacks can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Sufferers of panic and anxiety episodes will typically experience symptoms such as palpitations (the heart is experienced as beating quickly, which some people then construe as a sign that they are having a heart attack), shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing, sweating, fear of losing control of oneself etc. Anxiety and panic can occur suddenly and unexpectedly or be related to specific stimuli (e.g. subways, water, escalators, hospitals) and situations (e.g. social situations, exams, being alone, work). Psychotherapy can help to gain an understanding of the mechanisms at work here, to learn new coping strategies for dealing with stress, pressure and anxiety and to help to neutralise the fear attached to specific stimuli.
Urges and impulses to perform specific rituals or acts can have a debilitating effect. They prevent sufferers from acting freely and without anxiety. Instead they create a reliance on performing certain acts (e.g. hand washing, walking down the street on a certain side) and creating certain structures in order to alleviate anxiety and maintain a sense of well-being and calm. Suffers experience a sense of inner compulsion to perform these activities and have little or no sense of being able to resist this inner pressure. There is not always (this is frequently so in fact) a logical link between the ritual or action to be performed and the underlying concerns and anxieties. Psychotherapy can help to find alternative ways to deals with anxiety and concerns, they can strengthen individuals to resist inner urges and assist sufferers in understanding the underlying mechanisms behind the compulsion.

The term psychosomatic is used to refer to symptoms which are physical and medically-measurable and which are aggravated by psychological factors. These symptoms are real and are not just “all in the mind”. Coronary heart disease, gastritis and back problems are all examples of psychosomatic symptoms. Stress has a well documented influence on psychsomatic disorders. Stress results in body tension, weakens the immune system and can disturb important self-care routines like eating and sleeping. There are also instances in which symptoms cannot be verified by medical means. Such symptoms are called somatoform disorders. Examples of somatoform disorders are the feeling of losing control of a body part, a subjective feeling of pain for which there no medical evidence, constant worry about health or body parts. There can be a number of reasons for a somatoform disorder. Supressed feelings, a heightened sensitivity to physical sensations, a pronounced sense of vulnerabilty or the conviction that one’s health is fragile can all contribute to the origin and perpetuation of the somatoform disorder. Psychotherapy can help you to identify sources of stress, concern and conflict behind psychsomatic and somatoform conditions, to explore ways of finding relief and to develop alternate strategies in delaing with pressure, tension and anxiety.

Eating disorders such as bulemia, anorexia and adiposity can have a debilitating affect on the lives and self-esteem of sufferers. They are also the cause of considerable concern for relatives and partners. Eating disorders often occur as a result of relationship difficulties in the present and/or in the past. Psychotherapy can help to identify possible sources of relationship tension, to find closure for past issues and ways of handling current conflicts as well providing assistance in discovering alternatives to solutions involving food and (not) eating as a source of self-esteem, comfort and solace.
7

Get in touch

If you would like to book an appointment, please fill out the online contact form which you will find by clicking on the button below. For all other requests please contact me by e-mail at kevin.hall@wish.wien. As I spend the majority of my working day in therapy, counselling and training sessions it is difficult to get hold of me by phone.
Kevin J. Hall, MSc

Psychotherapist (SF), Dipl. Coach, Austrian Coaching Council Senior Coach, Hypnotherapist

Kontakt Details

+43 1 9900858 kevin.hall@wish.wien

Address

WISH Mindscience, Straßgschwandtnerstraße 4/1, 1140 Vienna, Austria