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Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy Therapy

Counseling vs Therapy

Life is not as perfect as what we expect it to be. Life, as they say, can be beautiful; it can be ugly. One truth about it is that living it alone is a challenge. Either life will control you or you control your life. Everyone has his or her choices. In problems bugging us, it’s the same. Either we surrender on it or we face it.

Counseling and therapy are forms of solutions when one cannot handle his or her personal problems. These people are trained enough for them to handle special situations that warrant professional counseling and therapy. However, what is the difference between counseling and therapy?

Counseling is generally giving advice. This only means that, in general, anyone can be a counselor since they are just on the side of giving advice. These can be in the form of education, finance, health, spiritual, or anything under the sun. Counseling, according to mental health classifications, is definitely a short course of therapy focusing on the behavioral aspects of humans. The focus of counseling is short-term and lighter problems.

Regarding therapy or psychotherapy, this is much longer than counseling for the fact that it targets longer or chronic psychological and emotional problems that people bear. The focus of therapy is generally the thought processes.

Counseling and therapy are generally two synonymous terms as they can be interchanged. A therapist can provide counseling and psychotherapy. However, a person who counsels called a counselor will depend on the degree he or she has received. Therapy involves a more difficult task to do compared to counseling. So the people conducting that can be psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers.

Though counseling and therapy do not differ that much, they are still a form of intervention to those who are seeking solutions to their emotional and psychological problems. Without these people, we can’t function normally due to the problems we are facing and bearing. So these people providing counseling and therapy are of great help to us.


1.Counseling is indicated for short-term and less-serious problems while therapy is indicated for long-term and much more chronic psychological and emotional problems.
2.Counseling is generally giving advice while in therapy there are more in-depth interventions.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello, and thanks for this blog–I enjoy it and I appreciate your ongoing effort to add clarity! In that spirit, I’d like to extend the conversation about counseling.

    There are different types of counseling, as you noted, and some are geared more toward short-term work to address something situational in the client’s life. However, those who are specifically mental health counselors (vs. career counselors, for example) can provide longer-term treatment. In this subset, then, counselor and therapist are synonymous.

    It would be inaccurate to say that the discipline of counseling is inappropriate for clients with serious conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder. A mental health counselor is indeed qualified to provide psychotherapy by virtue of the credential; his or her ability to do so competently for a given diagnosis or client situation depends on experience, supervision, and continuing education. In other words, my credentials as a mental health counselor technically allow me to treat any psychiatric condition, but, to remain within my boundaries of competence and ethical practice, I treat clients for whom I have the appropriate experience etc. and I refer to another practitioner when the issues are beyond my scope. So there is a difference between technically qualified and ethically qualified (another blog, perhaps? 🙂 )

    Finally, if I may be so bold, I wish to disagree with your perspective that counseling is in general advice-giving. This is a well-entrenched belief and one that we in mental health counseling must continually combat. Some types of counselors do appropriately give advice, e.g. career counselors and attorneys: Both have expertise that the client needs, information to which the client does not have easy access, and so they appropriately engage in advice-giving. Mental health counseling, in contrast, is not meant to work this way. As with any modality of psychotherapy, the counselor is supposed to assist clients in developing their own insights and choosing their own paths. Counselors often do inform and even help the client to anticipate the outcomes of the various choices available, but we do not tell clients what to do. This, in fact, is a key difference between counselors vs friends/partners/parents/bosses: We help people to identify and explore all of their choices, encouraging them to choose a path that will be healthy in every way; however, we refrain from persuading them toward a particular choice. Competent therapists recognize that they do not have “the answers” for everyone and that their own way is not necessarily the best way, so instead of telling people what to do, we help them to make their own decisions–in effect, to learn to counsel themselves.

    Again, thank you for this blog, and thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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