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Counselor vs Therapist: The Differences Explained

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The Differences Between Counselors and Therapists

Counselors and therapists are both trained professionals that help people deal with various issues in their lives. However, the two professions have different focuses. Counselors will typically work on a short-term basis and focus more on teaching coping skills to clients as well as offering them support. Therapists will tend to be more long-term in nature and provide therapy sessions for an individual or a family unit rather than just individuals. 

Counselors are often trained to work in schools, hospitals, addiction centers, retirement homes, churches, or other social service organizations. Therapists on the other hand usually have a more clinical focus and typically work as private practitioners or for clinics. 

Many people and even clinicians themselves often use “counseling” and “therapy” interchangeably — that means psychologists would usually perform both counseling work without an emphasis on psychological treatment procedures like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), family systems theory/family psychoanalysis ̶and so forth.

How Can I Find the Right Mental Health Professional for Me?

Many people are seeking therapy for a number of reasons, and finding the right mental health professional can be difficult. It is important to do your research on different mental health professionals before you commit to one so that you know what they specialize in. There are many factors that go into choosing an expert to work with such as their location, experience level, and credentials. 

While neither counselors nor therapists are considered medical doctors that can prescribe medication, both are able to provide talk therapy treatments. Both professionals work with individuals to develop problem-solving skills. However, a counselor may be a better choice if you want to resolve more short-term issues while a therapist is better suited for long-term issues including anxiety, depression, anger issues, and more.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue, it is important to take your time and find the right mental health professional for your needs.

What Is a Therapist?

A therapist is someone who has at least a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or another mental health field with extensive training that allows them to diagnose an individual’s problems and prescribe treatment plans accordingly. 

Therapists are trained in a number of different therapeutic methods and techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). They may also provide psychotherapy which is the more traditional form of therapy. Professionals such as marriage and family therapists can also help people cope with problems like marital conflict or parenting difficulties. 

In addition to these traditional approaches, they may also incorporate more holistic therapies like art or mindfulness-based therapies into their practice. People visit therapists for help managing anxiety or other stress-related disorders, find ways to manage difficult emotions in healthy ways, or work through trauma from the past that still haunts them today.

Therapist Specialties

  • Addiction Therapy
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Divorce Therapy
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Child Therapy
  • Clinical Therapy
  • Cognitive Therapy
  • Eating disorder Therapy
  • Social work Therapist
  • Clinical Psychologist

What Is a Counselor?

Counselors provide guidance on personal problems or difficulties with life changes. They can also talk about feelings such as anxiety, depression, anger management issues, etc., but usually only up to a certain level of severity before referring out for more advanced treatment options. 

Counselors should have at least an undergraduate degree in counseling or equivalent experience in mental health care which includes 2-3 years of post-graduate supervised work experience under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor.

Typically counselors help their clients deal with current issues that may be affecting their mental health in a negative way. Clients work closely with their counselor to develop healthy coping skills that help them to become better problem solvers and to improve their mental health.

Counselor Specialties

    Choosing the Right Type of Therapy for Your Needs

    The field of mental health is vast, and there are many different types of therapy and counselors to choose from. It can be overwhelming to figure out which type of counselor or therapist is best for you, but the first step in that process is figuring out what your needs are.

    Every aspect of your needs should be considered including whether you require short or long-term treatment, your budget, how quickly you expect results, your location, or whether you prefer online or remote therapy options.

    Reach out to our office today for a free phone consultation to learn more about our service offerings and see if we are the right fit for you.

    Find the Right Therapist for You

    Counselors and therapists are both trained professionals that help people deal with various issues in their lives. However, the two professions have different focuses. Counselors will typically work on a short-term basis and focus more on teaching coping skills to clients as well as offering them support. Therapists will tend to be more long-term in nature and provide therapy sessions for an individual or a family unit rather than just individuals. 

    If you’re interested in finding out which type of professional might best suit your needs, reach out to our office so you can get started today!

    Learn About Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, & More

    The American Psychological Association goes into great detail regarding the differing education and training requirements between psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, licensed therapists, and other mental health counselors. The following is a list of further resources to help you learn more:

    What Our Clients Say

    "I knew from the moment I met her that she was different than some of the therapists I've had in the past. I didn't feel like a weirdo. She made me feel accepted and safe."

    - Elizabeth S. (Google)

    "Throughout this process, I have learned to forgive, accept, and manage what I can control."

    - Katherine D. (Google)

    "I tried counseling here and there in the past, and although each time was a step in the right direction, this time I've noticed an absolute change in my mindset and how I feel."

    - Michelle T. (Google)

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    Frequently Asked Questions

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    If you are an existing client, please outreach to your provider directly either by telephone, email, or via the client portal secure messaging system.

    Do you accept my insurance?

    HWP does not accept insurance. Managed care companies were created to “manage” and contain escalating health care costs. Their bottom line is to reduce costs and raise profits; it is not to increase the quality of care professionals provide or your quality of life. HWP is solution-focused on quality of life and personal goals.

    What is your cancellation policy?

    If you need to cancel or change your appointment, we ask you to inform your provider at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled session start time. Your full session fee will be charged for missed appointments and cancellations received less than 24 hours in advance.

    What forms of payment do you accept?

    Cash, credit cards, and health savings (HSA) or flex spending account (FSA) cards that have a major credit card logo on it are all accepted forms of payment.