What's The Difference Between Counseling and Therapy?
What's the real difference between counseling and psychotherapy? The short answer is "not very much!" There are many names to describe the process of helping people to:
- gain the skills to achieve lasting happiness
- overcome emotional roadblocks to self-esteem
- make consistently healthy decisions and
- obtain true intimacy in relationships
Some of these names include "psychotherapy", "therapy", counseling", and "life coaching". The words used are not nearly as important as the skill and experience of the person providing these services.
Some people say that “counseling” deals mainly with basic life problems that most people experience at one time or another. Examples include work stress, relationship problems or difficult life transitions such as the loss of a loved one. In contrast the word “psychotherapy” suggests a greater focus on improving problems with a person's underlying thoughts, beliefs or emotions. Obviously the best benefit for most people involves a mix of both approaches.
A counselor is also likely to give lots of supportive suggestions or advice while a psychotherapist is generally less directive. I think the most effective approach is to create an emotionally safe space for the deep discussion of sensitive issues while also actively encouraging the conversation toward the most productive outcome, deepest relief and greatest insight.
The different types of educational degrees that therapists and counselors possess can be confusing. A psychiatrist is generally the only mental health professional to prescribe medication, while a psychologist can provide psychological testing. There are many other types of helping professionals, including clinical social workers (such as myself). My specific educational background gives me excellent insight into the ways people relate to themselves and others. The most important point is that the quality of care you receive matters more than the letters after someone's name.
In the final analysis it's not important what you call a person who helps you sort out personal concerns, get a better handle on your thoughts and feelings and improve the quality of your relationships. Just make sure you're comfortable talking with that person about what's going on in your life and you'll get the assistance you need to Experience A Life You Deeply Deserve.
I hope you will take a little time to read some of my many other articles to educate, encourage and inspire you along your journey to a life you richly deserve. If I can provide more personal assistance to you, either in person, by phone or via Skype, please don't hesitate to contact me.