The Difference between a Counselor and a Psychotherapist


When people require help with mental health issues, they have two types of therapy available to them: Tustin counseling and psychotherapy. There are significant differences between the two, however, and if you feel you have a mental health issue that needs addressing, you will need to know which one is right with you. That said, it is unlikely that you will choose the wrong one, as both will be highly beneficial.

The Similarities between Counseling and Psychotherapy

There are many similarities between counseling and psychotherapy, including:

  • They both are talking therapies.
  • They both require regular appointments, usually for about 50 minutes to an hour, and generally once a week.
  • Both enable a therapist to listen to their client and steer the conversation in a direction that enables the patient to effectively help themselves.
  • Both have different therapeutic approaches, depending on the professional’s personal preferences and training.

Th Differences between Counseling and Psychotherapy

While some therapists will say that there are no differences between counselors and therapists, but this is not entirely true. Some of the differences include:

  • Counseling is usually provided for short term solutions, generally for no more than ten weeks. Psychotherapy, by contrast, is usually much more long term.
  • Counselors and psychotherapists are trained differently. Psychotherapists are psychologists, which means they are educated to doctoral degree. Counselors are trained in counseling, which usually means a master’s degree.

Understanding the Overlap and Differences

When people speak of counseling, they usually means that they are talking about a very specific issue. For instance, they may be seeing a drug or alcohol counselor or a family and marriage therapist. Counselors, therefore, has received in-depth training on a specific issue, but not on psychology as a whole. Psychotherapists, by contrast, have received more training and therefore deliver a different type of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

When people go to counseling, they usually have a very specific goal in mind. For instance, they want to beat their addiction, manage their anger, save or end their relationship, or manage certain other behaviors. Psychotherapy is more vague in nature. People who seek or need psychotherapy often feel stuck and have little to no understanding of their feelings. The goal of psychotherapy is to identify what is going on in a person’s life, whether there are significant mental health issues in place, and what tools and strategies could be utilized to turn a person’s life around.

In most cases, psychotherapists have had extensive therapy themselves, either because they have had a problem that they have used as their inspiration, or as part of their training. In fact, some schools now require psychotherapy students to be in therapy for the duration of their training program. Psychotherapists build a much deeper relationship with their clients, getting to know every element of their life, rather than just the element that pertains to the specific problem they are dealing with.

The lines between counseling and psychotherapy are blurry, but some clear differences do also exist.