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Counselor vs Therapist: The Differences Explained

The best way to find out if this approach is for you is to schedule a 15 - 20 minute consultation. Depending on your clinician’s availability, this consult may be held over the phone, via video, or in-person.

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. They will generally focus more on helping an individual identify the root cause of their problems and work to correct any underlying issues.

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. Finding a good fit for your needs is essential so that you can trust them and work together to achieve your goals.

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 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. This is done through a variety of techniques such as communication and problem-solving strategies, role-playing exercises, and activity suggestions.

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.

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:

Counseling Psychology: A Distinct Field Within Mental Health

Counseling Psychology is a distinct field that brings a unique perspective to mental health counseling. Unlike counselors and therapists, counseling psychologists generally possess a doctoral degree, often a Ph.D. or Psy.D., specifically in counseling psychology. This doctorate level training equips them with the skills to offer comprehensive psychological services.

While therapists and counselors focus on either short-term coping skills or long-term mental health issues, counseling psychologists are trained to address both immediate concerns and more enduring problems. Their practice is focused on normative life-span development.

Because of their doctorate level training, counseling psychologists are also equipped to conduct research, administer psychological tests, and evaluate treatment methods, adding another layer of depth to their practice.

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 usually engage in short-term work, emphasizing the teaching of coping skills and providing support to clients. On the other hand, therapists tend to adopt a long-term approach, conducting regular therapy sessions for individuals or families.

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!

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

“Kristi is wonderful. She is warm and inviting and aided us in bringing our marriage to where it should be. We are forever grateful for the healing and practices Kristi brought into our marriage. We could not recommend her more!”
– Ashley B. (Google)
“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)

Wellness Blog | #learnwithhwp

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule an appointment?

If you are a new client, you may schedule your complimentary consultation or your initial appointment by visiting the contact page and filling out the short form or outreaching directly to your desired provider by calling (470) 231-5355.

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.