Psychotherapy vs Counseling: What Are the Differences?Businessman talking about his job on psychotherapy session

Despite often being used interchangeably, the terms counseling and psychotherapy do not mean the same thing. They are two different terms that refer to two different practices. Though these practices are similar, they have a lot of differences. 

If you’re looking for mental health help, it’s important to know the differences between psychotherapy and counseling. This way, you’ll be sure you’ll get the right mental health services for your needs. Read on to get a comparison of psychotherapy vs counseling. 

What is Counseling

A counselor is a mental health professional that must hold at least a master’s degree to treat patients in a clinical setting. While they pursue their degree, they will take courses related to a particular specialty. They can get licensed after they have at least 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised experience, but they don’t need to have a license to offer services. 

A counselor focuses on a specific surface-level issue that is plaguing a person or group. It is also a very brief treatment that will only last for a few weeks or months. During treatment, the counselor will use talk therapy techniques to help his or her patient solve problems and meet goals. 

During talk therapy, a counselor will listen to his or her patients and then provide feedback and counsel. He or she also doesn’t try to give patients an answer to their problems. Rather, he or she tries to guide them to the answers. 

The exact type of help that the counselor provides depends on his or her specialty. Below, you’ll find a few examples of different types. 

Marriage Counseling 

A marriage counselor is a person that seeks to resolve interpersonal conflicts between a couple. The couples may be struggling to communicate well with each other or get enough affection, for example. The counselor will do what he or she can to note the differences between the value systems, personalities, and other aspects of these individuals to help them establish healthier forms of interaction. 

Career Counseling 

A career counselor helps a patient manage their careers. This can include making a career decision, dealing with a career change, and how they want their career to develop. Along with talk therapy, the counselor may also provide the client with assessments that can help them better understand what career they are suited for. 

Educational Counseling 

The terms “school counselor” and “educational counselor” are interchangeable. A school counselor is a counselor that helps students navigate their education. This can involve helping them work through issues like bullying, social anxiety, problems at home, and so on. 

What Is Psychotherapy

A psychotherapist must hold a master’s degree that is related to the field of psychotherapy, but some will go on to pursue a doctorate. Therapists usually need around two to three years of experience before they can get their license. They can offer services during the supervision period, but they must take a licensing exam after this. 

Psychotherapists also focus on a problem that their patients are experiencing, but they are not always as specialized as counselors. Also, they tend to try to dig to the root cause of the problem instead of just approaching it from the surface. Then they try to help the patient heal from the cause and stop unwanted behavior. 

Sessions with a psychotherapist tend to last for years or more. The psychotherapist will first ask a series of questions to better understand the patient’s situation. Then he or she will apply a particular therapeutic technique that can help a patient change his or her behavior. 

The exact type of therapy that a psychotherapist uses depends on the problem his or her patient is having. Some of the different types of therapy are listed below. 

Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic Therapies

This type of therapy focuses on unconscious issues and conflicts. A therapist will discover a person’s unconscious thoughts through their dreams of history. Once this is done, the therapist will help bring these issues to a conscious level and help them deal with these problems in a healthy way. 

Behavioral Therapy. 

Behavioral therapy focuses on the behaviors a person has taken on as a result of previous experiences. The therapist may try to help patients learn new behaviors through a system that rewards good behaviors and punishes bad ones, for instance. 

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses primarily on dysfunctional thinking. It is believed that this is the primary cause of unwanted emotions and behaviors. The therapist will help the person recognize unhealthy thinking patterns and then replace them with more accurate thoughts. 

Differences Between Psychotherapy vs Counseling

As the psychotherapy guide showed you, a licensed therapist is a highly trained and experienced mental health professional. They focus primarily on changing behaviors and getting to the root of problems. They can spend years with a single client. 

The counseling guide showed you that a licensed counselor is also a highly trained and experienced individual, but likely not as much as a psychotherapist. They also focus more on surface-level problems and don’t go very much into depth. They also spend a lot less time with their clients; only a few months at most.

Choosing Counseling or Psychotherapy Tips 

So if you want to go to a clinic such as the Naya Clinics for mental health, is counseling or psychotherapy the best? Here are some things to consider. 

  • The severity of your problem 
  • Your budget for mental health services 
  • The mental health issue you’re struggling with 
  • What’s available in your area

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No matter which professional you choose, as long as you choose a well-experienced one, you should receive excellent healthcare. Good luck with your mental health journey! 

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