What is the difference between Counseling and Therapy?

Counseling and therapy are usually considered the same thing. You might find it difficult to differentiate between the two terms, as both can be used interchangeably but there is a slight difference between the two. If you want to know what’s the difference between counseling and therapy, we have got you covered.

It is important to note that therapy can include counseling sessions for specific issues that may arise during a conversation with your therapist. On the other hand, if a counselor identifies some underlying patterns and concerns that affect the issues at hand, he may recommend you opt for a therapy session.

What is Counseling?


Counseling is usually focused on addressing a specific issue that influences the individual for a short time. For example, a person addicted to drugs due to peer pressure will need a counseling session. Or if an individual is suffering from grief, finding it difficult to manage stress, you may need to consult a counselor.

What is Therapy?


Therapy on the other hand tends to explore past issues that may contribute to our present experiences. It is a fact that we tend to get influenced by past experiences that may lead us to get influenced in a present situation.

Similarities between Counseling and Therapy


There exist many similarities between the two, including, but not limited to:

Development of therapeutic relationship between therapist and individual

Understanding individual behaviors, feelings, and issues and addressing them to make one’s life better.

Differences between Counseling and Psychotherapy


There exists a fine line of difference between counseling and therapy, including but not limited to:

Counseling focuses on present problems, while therapy focuses on chronic issues

In a counseling session, a therapist tends to address specific behaviors, while in a psychotherapy session, a psychologist tends to address overall patterns.

Counseling is action-based and problem-focused, whereas, psychotherapy is experience-focused

Counseling may involve guidance, help, and education to help people identify and address their problems. On the other hand, psychotherapy may involve testing, such as personality tests. It may also include a different set of therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy

Counselor vs Therapist

Professionals who provide treatment for mental and behavioral disorders are classified as counselors and therapists. Both professionals have different backgrounds based on education, experiences, and how they approach a case.


During their academic career, psychotherapists are taught about conducting counseling sessions too. It is a fact that psychotherapists relatively have a more challenging job. In their phase of education, psychotherapists learn about counseling too. This helps them in providing counseling sessions for a certain issue or problem.

A counselor is also known as an ‘advisor’. In Michigan, a counselor is called a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Counseling is thought of as when two people are involved in a matter while solving the problem.

A counselor must have a doctoral degree, multicultural counseling, counseling techniques, and group techniques. Counseling is usually meant to tackle temporary behavioral issues.

When you need to see a Counselor


If an individual is suffering from any of the following disorders, he should consult a certified counselor:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss and grief
  • Marital problems

Recognizing the fundamentals and basic patterns that are causing a change in behavior for a longer period can be resolved by therapy. It is different from the usual counseling sessions an individual receives. This is a longer period of treatment and focuses more on you as an individual – as to why your behavior has changed regarding a subject, or what vital points trigger your aggression in regards to a matter.

Psychotherapy is an evolutionary process that helps an individual understand why his/her life and relationships are affected. Sometimes, people are more relaxed with the term counseling instead of therapy. People tend to confide in therapy more specifically with marriage and family.

The professional who wants to become a therapist needs to get clearance from the Michigan Board of Marriage and Family and he/she needs to obtain a doctoral degree too.

When you need to see a Therapist


A therapist is entitled to provide you with the following services:

  • Marriage counseling
  • Group therapy for children
  • Family therapy for family and children
  • Couple therapy
  • Group therapy for work situations


The difference in the approach used by a counselor or a therapist to address mental health issues may help you make an informed decision, as to whom you should consult in different situations. For example, if you’re constantly feeling dejected, you should consult a good therapist. On the other hand, if you are suffering from anxiety and depression, you should consult a counselor to get your mental health issues addressed.

This brings us to the end of this article. In this article, we have tried our best to answer the question: what is the difference between counseling and therapy.

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