Counseling Versus Psychotherapy




The words ‘psychotherapist’ and ‘counselor’ are frequently used to imply the same things, but there are actually several valuable differences between these two. Generally, counseling is suggested for those going through particular situations like sorrow or addiction, and the sessions usually progress from weeks to months.

On the other hand, psychotherapy is focused on uncovering past concerns that could be aggravating an individual’s current issues. Sessions typically last for years and may be continuous or intermittent, depending on the case of the patients. In reality, however, these two fields of mental health overlap in so many ways.

Psychotherapy Vs. Counseling

Psychotherapy and counseling can be provided by the same counselor or therapist, although psychotherapy needs more practice and skills than simple counseling. It is done by professionals who have been specially trained in psychotherapy, like a psychologist, certified counselor, psychiatrist, or social worker.

A psychotherapist has the education and training to counsel his patients, but a counselor does not necessarily do. Hence, a therapist can counsel in certain situations while a counselor can counsel using a psychotherapeutic approach.


Psychotherapy involves a longer term of treatment that centers on getting insight into longstanding emotional and physical problems. The emphasis is on an individual’s thought patterns and how these patterns could affect past incidents so that they lead to issues in the present. Meaning that psychotherapy focuses on the underlying root of the present problems to make permanent changes and personal improvement happen.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are some of the common forms of psychotherapy.


“Counselor” literally means advisor. It encompasses two individuals that work alongside each other to resolve a problem or issue. The word is used together with several forms of advice-giving. For instance, spiritual mediation and financial preparations are forms of counseling.

Anyone can say that he is a counselor if one of his tasks is providing sound advice. Still, the word counseling can also appropriately indicate what happens in a relationship with a psychotherapist.

In mental health, counseling is commonly used to refer to a somewhat short treatment centered basically on behavior. It frequently targets a specific indication or negative incident and provides recommendations and advice in managing it. In this type of setting, the counselor guides and supports his client as they work together to find ways to handle life better and make more efficient adjustments to challenges.


Some examples of counselors include family and marriage counselors, substance abuse counselors, and grief counselors.


Mental health providers with Ph.D. or Psy.D have a higher likelihood of providing psychotherapy, and they can also do counseling. The key differences between psychotherapy and counseling, however, include:


  • More oriented on the bigger picture
  • Emphasis is on recurrent or chronic problems
  • Experience and emotion-focused
  • Long-term therapy could be intermittent or permanent
  • Primary method
  • Targets more deeply on internal feelings and thought patterns
  • Could include talk therapy, personality tests, and others like cognitive behavioral therapy


  • Particular behaviors or events
  • Emphasis is on current situations and issues
  • Behavior and action-focused
  • Brief treatment, about weeks to six months
  • Talk therapy
  • Secondary method
  • Provide more knowledge, comfort, and guidance to help clients recognize and figure out solutions to their current concerns.


Needless to say, there are numerous similarities between psychotherapy and counseling, and despite the distinction, psychotherapy often encompasses counseling, and counseling often encompasses some psychotherapy. Similar points include:

  • The goal of developing a positive, therapeutic, and secure relationship between the client and the counselor/therapist.
  • The efficiency of both types of treatment for a variety of individuals, both children and adults.
  • Understanding an individual’s behaviors and emotions and focusing on matters to enhance the individual’s life.

Choosing Between A Psychotherapist And A Counselor

When choosing a counselor, it is beneficial to know more about the differences mentioned above and the experience of the particular professionals and therapy styles that they use. At times, the decision will come down to availability, insurance coverage, and personal choice.

However, the most vital move is to see a therapist or counselor that you can rely on. In fact, the degree of reliability that an individual has in their mental health provider plays the most important role in whether or not the treatment will succeed.

You might also require a consult with a mental health professional for a few meetings before knowing the kind of therapy suitable for you. For instance, with some incidents, it can be tough to be aware if it is a brief or restricted problem that you are confronted with, or if indeed, there are circumstances in the past that have caused the present problem.

When You Can Consult A Counselor


Counseling could be a more suitable choice compared to psychotherapy if:

  • You want to learn coping strategies that can help deal with stress and enhance relationships
  • You have certain problems or matters that you want to address
  • You are dealing with addiction problems
  • You are undergoing adjustments like grief or divorce

When You Can Consult A Psychotherapist

Psychotherapy may be a more suitable choice if:

  • You are dealing with past trauma, or if you think that events in the past may have had some effect on your present problems.
  • You have issues that are tremendously affecting your relationships and your life in general.
  • You are diagnosed with a mental health disorder like anxiety or bipolar disorder.
  • You have consulted a counselor, and your problems are not improving despite actively working on the issue at hand.
  • Your current concerns are recurring or chronic.



Counseling For Depression





Depression is a severe mood disorder, with approximately 17 million adults in the United States have at least one specific depressive illness. It impacts how people feel, how they interact with others, and how they can manage everyday living. It can lead to emotions of misery and a lack of interest or enjoyment in things you previously loved doing. Anyone can suffer from depression, and it can occur any time, but it usually starts in adulthood.

The great news is that depression can be treated, with reports of up to 90% of individuals gradually reacting well to the treatments. Among the reasons depression responds to treatment is that enhancements are found in psychotherapy, counseling, and medications. Having the right counselor or therapist that can effectively enable you to understand and overcome the challenges you are experiencing due to depression and learn coping techniques to manage the symptoms is frequently the initial step to recovery.

Managing Depression

Depression is commonly managed with antidepressants, therapy, or both. There are numerous forms of antidepressants available in the market, and it could take time to find the most suitable form for you. Hence, working intimately with your physician is crucial at this time, as even with the right medicines, it still takes time to see improvement in how you are feeling finally.

Counseling For Depression

The degree and frequency of the symptoms and bouts of depression often help identify the type of counseling or therapy. If you have been depressed and have had major symptoms, consulting with a psychologist or psychiatrist might be beneficial since they work with more concerns from the pat that might have stemmed from your current emotions. However, if the depressive symptoms are more current or not very severe, talking to a counselor may be helpful.

In a counseling session, the counselor will utilize talk therapy to help you work through and deal with matters affecting your life in unhealthy ways. One of his roles is to hear his clients out, give feedback, and work with them to create strategies that help them cope. He also assesses improvement and makes adjustments to the counseling sessions as necessary. The counselor also tries to track his clients’ feelings and moods by providing them with homework that would help improve their circumstances.

Counseling for depression entails more on current emotions, behaviors, and thought patterns and how these impact your life at the moment. That is why cognitive behavioral therapy has become a helpful tool in many counseling sessions. With CBT, the counselor or therapist is tasked to shift his clients’ negative thoughts, those that have been causing the depression to worsen. It is objective-oriented, and the client and counselor both have active roles.

Since CBT is largely known to be a short-term type of therapy, it is frequently a perfect option for therapists who are dealing with minor to moderate depressive cases that don’t require in-depth psychotherapy. Additionally, there has been sufficient proof to show that CBT works effectively in counseling for depression.


Other Treatments

There are other treatment techniques and tools that are worth trying. Electroconvulsive therapy is helpful for the worst cases of depression. There are also alternative and complementary methods that offer further benefits.

Finding A Counselor

Finding a suitable counselor or other mental health providers to work with could take a lot of time. But when it comes to counseling for depression, the connection between the client and the counselor is vital to the success of the treatment session. Patience and open-mindedness are important values to have during the process.

If you’re uncertain about finding a counselor, an appropriate place to begin is with your physician. You may also want to consult major mental health centers in your area. They might not provide the kind of services you require, but they will most likely be acquainted with counselors close to your area that offer to counsel for depression.

You could check out one other place via one of the known organizations like Anxiety and Depression Association of America or the American Psychological Association. Many of these groups have online information that permits you to scan for mental health providers in the area.

Ultimately, take time to research the experts in your place. Search online and read about them. Email them and ask them for more information regarding their preferred types of treatment and how they respond to their clients. Many counselors and therapists provide free sessions as a trial if the patient is a good fit for the actual session.

Online therapy or counseling is another form of treatment that is worth looking into. It has become quite popular over the years and has significantly increased in the midst of the current pandemic.



Having depression can become stressful and devastating at times. Being in a therapeutic relationship with a mental health provider like a therapist or counselor offers a secure environment to stay in touch with the feelings, thoughts, and behavioral patterns that are causing the depressive symptoms to worsen. Counseling also helps you expand your knowledge about coping strategies that could help you manage your symptoms more efficiently.

It is safe to say that short-term counseling, which usually covers six months or less, is frequently applied for minor to moderate depression. If you think you could take advantage of going through counseling for depression, discuss this with your physician and get help for a referral.