Therapy vs Counseling: What's the Difference
and Which Is Right for You?
Considering bettering your mental health? If so, you’re far from alone. According to the CDC, nearly one in ten Americans sought counseling or therapy sessions in 2019.
Getting proper help can make a world of difference in your everyday life, whether you need to fine-tune your coping strategies or dig through past traumas. But when it comes to therapy vs. counseling, which option should you choose?
If you’re not sure of the difference between these two approaches, here’s what you should know before you make a decision.
What’s a Therapist vs. Counselor?
First things first: what does a counselor do that’s different from a therapist?
Counselors and therapists are both mental health professionals who have undertaken higher education to offer treatment for a range of issues. Both can sometimes treat similar issues, and both may use similar strategies to do so. In truth, there’s a lot of overlap between the two terms, and many people use them interchangeably.
However, not all counselors will have gone the same kinds of education requirements as those of a licensed psychotherapist, and vice versa. Because these careers differ slightly in terms of philosophy, counselors will undertake specific counseling courses while therapists will take courses in psychotherapy practices.
Both professionals will need to go through their state board of licensure, which means they’re considered experts in their practice. In other words, it’s important to make sure you’re working with a licensed and qualified therapist or counselor.
What Is Counseling?
To clear things up a little more, let’s take a closer look at what counseling entails.
Counseling is designed to help treat a range of mental and emotional issues. These issues can range from life obstacles to behavioral issues to anxiety. Patients may choose to seek counseling on a one-on-one basis, or they may seek couples counseling or counselling for families.
Counselors tend to be more focused on actionable steps patients can take to meet their immediate needs and improve their quality of life. This means that they will not always dig into past traumas or chronic issues unless they relate to the current treatment plan.
In addition, counseling sessions usually happen for a limited rather than long-term period.
What Is Therapy?
Similarly, therapy can treat a range of emotional and mental problems as well, including many of the same issues counseling might treat. However, the focus here tends to lean toward chronic issues, traumas, and conflicts.
Therapists can help dig into long-term conditions like depression, or they can help patients understand past conflicts and traumas. These sessions are great for patients who want to understand how their mental and emotional habits impact their everyday life.
Therapy tends to happen on a long-term basis, with sessions continuing for as long as needed.
Therapy vs. Counseling: Weigh Your Options for Mental Health
At the end of the day, knowing the difference between therapy vs. counseling can help you weigh your choices when it comes to your mental health. No matter the issues you want to address, both options may be able to help. It’s just a matter of your personal preferences and the types of approaches you want to use.
If you’re on the fence about approaching a mental health professional, feel free to reach out to them for an interview to see if you’re a good fit.
Looking for more tips to help you reconsider your approach to your physical and emotional health? Be sure to check out our other guides!
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