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Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy

March 6, 2021

9 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy

Primarily, psychotherapy and counselling are commonly used interchangeably, as many people do not know the difference between a counsellor and a therapist.

Counsellor vs Psychotherapist: Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy

Although the terms’ counsellor’ and ‘therapist’ might seem quite similar, they are very much varied when considering their nature of work. Let’s talk about the profession of a counsellor and psychotherapist and how they differ.

Who is a Therapist?

A psychotherapist or therapist is a registered professional who completes their graduation within 5 to 8 years. On the other hand, a counsellor does a 2 to a 3-year training course to become a professional.

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Who is a Counselor?

A counsellor is a professional with access to different modes of counselling as they have undergone an advanced training period under a qualified mental health professional. On the other hand, a therapist is trained to diagnose mental health conditions and offer clinical evaluations, and they make judgments based on clinical research. A therapist provides advice and solutions in different fields, including family therapy, marriage, counselling and social work.

Psychotherapists work with people who are suffering from or going through a type of mental illness. Some vital concepts that a therapist deals with include diversity, human development, growth, career and multicultural issues that affect people daily. On the other hand, counselling focuses on the consumer’s point of view and applies the counsellor’s training to solve for the client. Many mental health programs will have psychopathology and assessment programs combined with counselling for treatment.

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What is Counseling?

Counselling involves understanding and advancing a patient’s or client’s intellectual and emotional capabilities. Counsellors try to understand what their client is going through, their problems, and how their methods can help rectify their issue. Counselling is sometimes also referred to as talk therapy. It is a method in which people come to a professional to talk about their problems and how it affects their daily lifestyle.

However, counselling is a term that could have different meanings for different people. It is a process that can change people’s lives by altering their thought processes and feelings concerning different situations. A counsellor is a professional who will sit with you and explain the reasons for your current predicament and how you can come to terms with it. The counsellor knows which approach to use to help a client and will direct their efforts to change how they think and deal with the situation.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a professional service that will help solve mental health issues a person is dealing with, including emotional difficulties and mental illnesses. Such kind of therapy helps control the troublesome symptoms and help deal with them. After psychotherapy sessions, the client can work better to improve their mental well-being with the help of the psychotherapist.

The therapist helps clients deal with different life scenarios, including mental illness, trauma, loss of a loved one, anxiety or depression issues, and particular mental disorders. A professional will deal with different kinds of people and use other therapies and combinations of services to offer proper solutions. Some therapies include interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy and supportive therapy. Some people who suffer from pathological lying and compulsive lying disorder also need a professional therapist to help deal with their problems.

Difference Between Counseling and Therapy

If you wish to know whether you should seek the services of a counsellor or a therapist, you need to understand the difference between therapy and counselling. Counselling is considered short-term and requires only a few sessions to understand the problem and discuss possible solutions or treatment methods. The sessions focus on the current issues instead of going into the past. The counsellor usually comes up with a complete psychological profile but helps overcome the various roadblocks on the road to treatment and recovery.

Psychotherapy is a long-term approach focusing on various mental health aspects, including behaviours, feelings, thoughts and attitudes that impact a person’s relationships in work and life. Psychotherapy is a broad concept which includes counselling and offering clinical solutions to an individual based on his past, perspective, feelings and personality. In simpler terms, it can be said that counselling is the subset of psychotherapy.

Usually, both professions include advanced training along with an initial level of practice. And counsellors have a degree and can hold a license in their field. However, both counsellors and psychotherapists follow ethical rules and are not involved in lying or malpractice. The significant difference between a therapist and a counsellor lies in their educational background and their practices in offering services to their clients.

How to Know When to Look for a Counselor

Self-care is something that most of us often end up ignoring. Before working on our relationship with others around us, we must work on connecting with our inner-self. Sometimes life may feel a bit disoriented and hopeless, and in such times, counselling is recommended.

Here is when you should look for a counsellor:

1. You are having frequent mood swings or feeling sad all the time

2. You are dealing with any addiction

3. You are feeling a loss of competence

4. You have a tough time dealing with your loved ones, and this is affecting your relationships

5. You are feeling persistent sadness or loss of enjoyment

How to Know When to Look for a Therapist

When you go through issues in life, you need a professional to help you. It is not an issue of embarrassment; a rat instead therapist will help you with any problem and solve it with proper guidance. Here are the signs you need a therapist:

1. You are going through distress in life

2. You have relationship issues in your marriage

3. You feel your family has issues which need to be addressed

4. You are feeling wild, depressed, or having anxiety or panic attacks

5. You feel you have nobody who would listen to you and need someone to talk to

6. You are suffering from mental health issues such as insomnia or paranoia 

7. You feel you have symptoms of a known mental health disorder

8. You are unable to self-diagnose your mental health issue 

Tips for Choosing the Best Counselor or Therapist

If you are going through mental issues, you should start looking for a licensed mental health professional to help you. While looking for therapy, the most common question that could pop into your mind would be: “Should I visit a counsellor or a psychotherapist?”

For starters, it is essential to understand the difference between counselling and psychotherapy. In simple terms, you can look for a counsellor if you do not have serious mental health issues. On the other hand, if you are going through a traumatic situation or severe mental health issues in life, you may check with a therapist.

Here are a few tips to consider in finding the right therapist or counsellor:

Ask for References

If you have no idea about a counsellor or a therapist, the best thing you can do is ask your friends or family members for references. You never know who can help, and the people who have already gone through such issues can be the best ones for suggestions.

Check the Counselor or Therapist’s Background

Once you get any references, do some research about the professional. You can check their experience, skills, education, training and approach to solving a client’s problems. One of the best ways to prevent this is by visiting their website or calling their office for more information.

Consider their Gender

This is not something to worry about, but it is just for your convenience. Some people are uncomfortable talking to someone from another gender. For instance, a female may not be satisfied with a male counsellor or vice-versa.

Check Testimonials or Reviews

If you wish to know what others say about the counsellor or a therapist, you can check their website for testimonials about their service. Nowadays, there are open internet platforms where clients mention their experiences with their counsellors or therapist. Read these testimonials to find the right option for you.

Check if Your Insurance Covers Your Counseling or Therapy

Not all insurance policies cover counselling or psychotherapy. So, check whether this is the case before booking a session. You can compare the policies of different companies and find the best one. If you regularly need a therapist, buying a policy that covers your counselling or therapy is best.

Should I Look for a Counselor or a Psychotherapist?

Understanding the difference between a counsellor and a therapist is essential to know whom to contact when seeking help. Based on what you are going through, your symptoms and the kind of solution you are looking for, find a counsellor or psychotherapist after thorough research. If your trouble is short-term, for example, you cannot sleep or have anxiety issues in case you have a meeting or need to travel; you may need a counsellor to help you out. However, suppose you have gone through a traumatic situation in life, such as losing a pet or a family member, a breakup or going through a mental disorder and feel that you need long-term treatment; you should consider seeking help from a psychotherapist.

Best Option for Counseling or Therapy

If you are still confused about whether to seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist, you can check out our services and feel free to contact us. Talk to our professionals and take the first step towards recovery. We are a group of professionals with experienced clinicians, including both counsellors and psychotherapists. Once a person visits us for help, we impart positivity with our services and ensure they leave with a smile and a free mind.

To know more about us, you can check our blogs and read what our clients say about our services and how we helped them. To get the best help from our professionals, you can book an appointment with them from our website or App, and we’d help you resolve your problems, making happiness your priority.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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