Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy


Primarily, the terms psychotherapy and counseling are commonly used interchangeably as a lot of people do not know the difference between a counselor and therapist.

Counselor vs Psychotherapist: Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy

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

Who is a Therapist?

A psychotherapist or therapist is a registered professional who completes their graduation over a period of 5 to 8 years. A counselor on the other hand, does a 2 to 3 year training course to become a professional.

Who is a Counselor?

A counselor is a professional with access to different modes of counseling 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. They make judgments based on clinical research. A therapist offers advice and solutions in different fields including family therapy, marriage, counseling and social work.

Psychotherapists work with people who are suffering from or going through a type of mental illness. Some of the vital concepts that a therapist deals with include diversity, human development, growth, career and multicultural issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, counseling focuses on the consumer point of view and applies the counselor’s training to arrive to a solution for the client. In fact, many mental health programs will have psychopathology and assessment programs combined with counseling for treatment.

What is Counseling?

Counseling is an approach that involves understanding and advancing intellectual and emotional capabilities of a patient or client. Counselors try to understand what their client is going through, their problems, and how their methods can help rectify their issue. Counseling 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, counseling is a term that could have different meanings for different people. It is a process that can change the lives of people by altering their thought processes and feelings concerning different situations. A counselor 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 counselor knows which approach to use to help a client, and will direct their efforts to changing the way you think and deal with the situation at hand.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a professional service that will helps 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 along with the help of the psychotherapist.

The therapist helps clients deal with different scenarios of life 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 different therapies and combinations of services to offer proper solutions. Some of the different types of psychotherapies include interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, psycho-dynamic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and supportive therapy. Some people who suffer from pathological lying and compulsive lying disorderalso need a professional therapist to help deal with their problems.

Difference Between Counseling and Therapy

If you wish to know whether you should go seek the services of a counselor or a therapist, you need to understand the difference between therapy and counseling. Counseling is considered short-term and requires only a few sessions to understand the problem and discuss the possible solutions or treatment methods. The sessions focus on the current issues instead of going into the past. The counselor 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 that focuses on various mental health aspects including behaviors, feelings, thoughts and attitudes that impact a person’s relationships, both in work and life in general. Psychotherapy is a broad concept which includes counseling and offering clinical solutions to an individual based on his past, perspective, feelings and personality. In simpler terms, it can be said that counseling is the subset of psychotherapy.

Usually, both professions include advanced training along with an initial level of practice. And counselors have a degree and can hold a license in their field of practice. However, in both cases, counselors and psychotherapists follow ethical practices and are not involved in lying or any other malpractices. The major difference between a therapist and a counselor lies in the education background and the practices they follow in offering the services to the clients.

How to Know When to Look for a Counselor

Self-care is something that most of us often end up ignoring. Before we start 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. In such times, counseling is definitely recommended.

Here is when you should look for a counselor:

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

2. You are dealing with any kind of addiction

3. You are feeling a loss of competence

4. You are having 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 out. It is not an issue of embarrassment, rather, the 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 needs to be addressed

4. You are feeling manic, 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 who can help you out. While looking for therapy, the most common question that could pop in your mind would be: “Should I visit a counselor or a psychotherapist?”

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

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

Ask for References

If you have no idea about a counselor or a therapist, the best thing you can do is ask your friends or family members for references. You never know who can be of help. 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 reference, do some research about the professional. You can check their experience, skills, education, training and approach to solve a client’s problems. One of the best ways to check is by visiting their website or by calling their office for more information.

Consider their Gender

This is not something to worry about but is just for your own convenience. Some people are not comfortable in talking personally to someone from the opposite gender. For instance, a female may not be comfortable with a male counselor or vice-versa.

Check Testimonials or Reviews

If you wish to know what others have to say about the counselor or a therapist, you can check their website for testimonials about their service. Nowadays, there are open platforms on the internet where clients mention how their experience was with their counselor 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 counseling 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, it is best to buy a policy that covers your counseling or therapy.

Should I Look for a Counselor or a Psychotherapist?

The reason why it is essential to understand the difference between a counselor and a therapist is 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 counselor or psychotherapist after doing thorough research. If your trouble is short-term, for example, you are unable to sleep or have anxiety issues in case you have a meeting or need to travel, you may need a counselor to help you out. However, suppose you have gone through a traumatic situation in life such as losing a pet or a family member, breakup or you are 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 whether to seek help from a counselor 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 counselors and psychotherapists. Once a person visits us for help, we make sure to impart positivity with our services and ensure they leave with a smile and a free mind.

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

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