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.



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