The word therapy comes from a Greek word meaning, cure or healing. In the Western World, we have come to use the word therapy as a shorthand for 'talking therapies'. Though it can include many different psychological and psychotherapeutic disciplines.
This is a very personal question, the answer of which I believe can only be truly chosen by the individual him or herself. If you are having difficulty coping with a particular circumstance in your life, if you are experiencing emotional disturbances that you don't understand, if you are having difficult relationships you can't seem to get a handle on, or are having trouble changing an area of your life, no matter how hard you try...therapy may be for you.
Within the UK, counsellor and psychotherapist aren't protected terms. Therefore understanding the differences between the two terms can be confusing. I see counselling as being able to tackle every day problems, which may span the mundane to the catastrophic. Counselling is often linked with more short term work and may be more structured.
Psychotherapeutic work explores more deeply held patterns which may lie within your past history. While psychotherapy absolutely deals with current issues a client may have, we often explore how those current issues may link to self beliefs or identity. Psychotherapy is often linked with longer term work.
I hear this very often from new clients - my issues aren't THAT bad, or "this feels utterly indulgent". One of my favourite writers, Vicktor Frankel puts it this way,
"A man's suffering is similar to the behaviour of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the 'size' of human suffering is absolutely relative." from “Man’s Search for Meaning”
Whatever is causing you pain is real; and in some way, untenable to you. That is where we begin - not with someone else's story. With yours.
This can be a real concern for individuals at the beginning of therapy. Will I become dependant. Will I become disempowered and need constant therapy to get me through life?
I believe good therapy initially is more like a cast rather than a crutch. A cast, holds you in the best position for healing. It also protects the wounded site from infection and external disturbance. But the healing doesn't come from the cast, the therapy, the healing comes from within YOU.
I believe good therapy empowers you to live your life, learning what feels like thriving to you, moving beyond survival, and then moving on.
Firstly, I would invite you to consider youself not as a defective or broken person, but rather a person under the influence of a pain that hasn't been properly supported, held and met. Pain unheard, can become a pretty horrendous injury.
As an integrative therapist, I have great respect for many therapies, and practices. I believe healing can come from many different practices, not just counselling or psychotherapy. Understanding, however, coupled with compassion, and leading towards healing, is something I think counselling and psychotherapy do particularly well.