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Key Differences Between Counseling and Psychotherapy




The terms counselor and psychotherapist are used interchangeably and have some similarities as well as some essential differences that we wish to clearly state in this article.

Generally, we recommend counseling for people struggling with issues or situations such as addiction, grief, anxiety, and so on. The counseling period can last for weeks or several months.

Psychotherapy on the other hand seeks to explore past issues that can be the reason for present-day issues. It is a therapy period that takes place either continuously or intermittently for a specified period.

We will delve into the clear differences between counseling and psychotherapy as we desire to understand the major differences before you choose the type of therapy that will be most effective for you when the need arises.

Counseling vs. Psychotherapy 

A trained professional can handle both counseling and psychotherapy services at the same time, however, it requires more than just the skill of counseling. Psychotherapy requires a trained professional to practice psychotherapy such as psychiatrist or psychology.

While a psychotherapist is qualified to provide counseling services, a counselor on the other hand does not possess the skills and training to provide psychotherapy services.

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For some people, a counselor is an advisor who listens to the issues of one person at a time in an attempt to resolve the issue. It is used alongside other terms to render advice and solutions to people passing a specific difficulty.

So many individuals claim to be counselors as long as they can provide you with some good advice on an issue you might be passing through. Counseling is also seen as the relationship that occurs between a client and a psychotherapist.

In the context of mental health, counseling is seen as a short or periodical form of treatment that will improve the well-being of an individual. It targets a specific behavior or problem and offers advice and suggestions by experts called counselors.

When a person undergoes counseling, he or she enjoys the guidance and support of a counselor to provide ways to manage life and adjust to adversity. Counseling therapy is recommended to anyone who has issues to resolve emotionally.


Psychotherapy on the other hand requires a longer-term treatment. It requires professionals to carefully gain insight into physical and emotional problems. Its main focus is on how an individual thinks and how his or her present decisions must have influenced past events that must have caused unforeseen problems.

In a nutshell, psychotherapy addresses the main cause of a current issue or problem in an attempt to provide a lasting change for personal growth.

Several types of therapy fall under the confines of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, psychoanalytic, and so many others.

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Professionals in mental health who possess advanced degrees have every tendency to provide psychotherapy, but this is not the same for a counselor. A counselor provides significant and short time advice to help resolve a specific issue. Below are key differences between Counseling and Psychotherapy:


  1. Targeted to resolve present problems and situations.
  2. Counseling Aids in solving specific issues or behaviors.
  3. The therapy is short-term and lasts for a period of weeks that can extend up to 6 months.
  4. It focuses on actions and how you can control your emotions.
  5. It guides, supports, and educates people to help them identify and find their solutions to current problems.


  1. It focuses on chronic problems that keep recurring.
  2. Provides long-term therapy that should last for a long time.
  3. In-depth focus on internal thoughts or issues that enhances personal growth.
  4. It focuses on feelings and experience.
  5. Requires testing such as personality tests, talk therapy, cognitive therapy, and so many others.

James Smith is the writer for Munchkin Press. He is a young American writer from California and is currently traveling around the world. He has a passion for helping people and motivates others.

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