Visit counselors and psychotherapists

The terms “counselor” and “psychotherapist” are often used interchangeably. There are many similarities, but there are also some important differences. Generally speaking, it is recommended to consult for specific problems and situations (such as addiction or grief), and the consultation period lasts from several weeks to several months.

In contrast, psychotherapy tends to explore past problems that may cause current problems. It usually occurs continuously or intermittently within a few years. However, in actual practice, there is a lot of overlap between these two therapies.

Understanding more of the differences between counseling and psychotherapy may help you choose the type of treatment that is most effective for you personally.

Counseling and psychotherapy

Although the same therapist may provide counseling and psychotherapy at the same time, psychotherapy usually requires more skills than simple counseling.It is performed by professionals trained in psychotherapy, such as psychiatrists or psychologists, trained counsellors or social workers.

Although psychotherapists are qualified to provide counseling, counselors may or may not have the training and skills needed to provide psychotherapy.

In other words, the therapist may provide counseling for specific situations, and the counselor may play a role in psychotherapy.


Technically speaking, “consultant” means “consultant.” It involves two people working together to solve a problem. This is a term used in conjunction with many types of recommendations. For example, financial planning and spiritual guidance are both types of consultation.

Almost anyone can claim to be a consultant, as long as they play the role of providing advice. The term counseling can also be used appropriately to refer to what happens in the relationship with the psychotherapist.

In the context of mental health, “counseling” is often used to mean a relatively brief treatment focused mainly on behavior. It usually addresses a specific symptom or problematic situation and provides advice and suggestions for dealing with it.

In this case, the counselor provides guidance and support as personal Find ways to better manage your life and adapt to change or adversity.

There are many types of counselors, such as marriage and family therapists, grief counselors, addiction and substance abuse counselors, and so on.

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On the other hand, “psychotherapy” is usually a long-term treatment that focuses more on understanding chronic physical and emotional problems. It focuses on human thought processes and how these processes are affected by past events, leading to present problems.

In other words, psychotherapy addresses the root causes and core problems of current problems, so that lasting changes and personal growth may occur.

There are several different types of treatments that belong to the general headings of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapy and other methods.


Counseling and psychotherapy have many similarities. Even if there are differences, counseling often includes some psychotherapy, and psychotherapy often includes some counseling. Similarities include:

  • Establish a curative, safe and therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the individual
  • Effective for all kinds of people, including adults and children
  • Understand one’s feelings and behaviors, and solve problems with the goal of improving one’s life


Although mental health professionals with a higher degree (such as a PhD in Psychology or a PhD in Psychology) are more likely to provide psychotherapy, the same provider may perform both types of treatment at the same time. However, there are some key differences between providers.


  • Pay attention to current problems and situations

  • Specific situation or behavior

  • Short-term treatment (lasting several weeks to 6 months)

  • Centered on action and behavior

  • Talk therapy

  • Guidance, support and education to help people identify and find their own solutions to current problems

  • Secondary processing


  • Focus on chronic or recurrent problems

  • Overall pattern, big picture oriented

  • Long-term treatment, continuous or intermittent for many years

  • Focus on feeling and experience

  • May include tests (e.g. personality, intelligence), talk therapy, other therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy

  • In-depth attention to internal thoughts/feelings that lead to personal growth (core issues)

  • Primary craft

How to choose between a counselor and a psychotherapist

When choosing a therapist, it is helpful to understand the above differences, as well as the background of specific providers and the methods they use. Sometimes, the choice will boil down to personal preferences, access rights, or insurance coverage.

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However, the most important step is to find a therapist you can trust. In fact, the degree of trust a person has in his mental health care doctor has the greatest effect on the success of the treatment.

Before you know which treatment is best for you, you may actually need to talk to a healthcare provider or make a few appointments. For example, in some cases, it may be difficult to know whether it is short-term, the limited problems you are facing (therefore, it may be a situation that is best treated through counseling), or whether you have past events or circumstances that have caused the current problem.

When you want to see a counselor

Counseling may be a better option than psychotherapy if the following situations occur:

  • You have a specific problem or short-term problem that you want to solve
  • You want to learn coping skills to help better manage stress and improve interpersonal relationships
  • You are dealing with changes and adjustments in your life, such as divorce or grief
  • You are dealing with addiction
  • You are looking for someone who is essentially a “coach” who can guide and support you in learning to identify problems and develop healthy solutions yourself

When you want to see a psychotherapist

If the following situations occur, a psychotherapist may be a better choice:

  • You have problems that seriously affect your life and relationships
  • You are dealing with past traumas, or if you think past conditions may affect your current problems
  • Your current problem is a long-term or recurring problem
  • You have chronic diseases that affect your emotional health (such as autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc.)
  • You have a diagnosed mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or severe anxiety
  • You have seen the counselor, although you have been actively seeking solutions, but your problem has not improved

Counseling and psychotherapy for depression

Both counseling and psychotherapy are used to treat depression. The choice depends on the severity of the depression, whether it is a new problem or a persistent or recurring problem for you, and so on.

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In terms of the effectiveness of these two methods, a 2016 study found that counseling is essential for treatment Previously untreated Diagnosed mild to moderate depression in primary care.

However, another 2016 study found that interpersonal psychotherapy is more beneficial than counseling in terms of the two symptoms and overall functioning of depressed teenagers. short term.In other words, a 2018 study of the same group found that long, The effect of consultation is more beneficial.

People with chronic and severe depression may benefit the most from psychotherapy, while people with mild to moderate depression may benefit from establishing a good relationship with the therapist based on mutual trust and discussing with them. This method is most helpful.

Prepare to visit a counselor or psychotherapist

Whether you choose to see a counselor or a psychotherapist, if you do some homework in advance, your first date may be more meaningful. This will not only help you clarify your reasons for seeking professional help, but it will also help the provider you see understand whether she believes she can help you.

Before you make an appointment, please list the following:

  • Any problems, concerns, or symptoms you are dealing with, even if they seem unrelated or not the reason you are seeking treatment
  • Critical personal information, including any major stress or recent life changes
  • All medicines, vitamins or other supplements you are taking, including dosages
  • Questions to ask your healthcare provider

Depression discussion guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.

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For some reasons, you may want to choose a counselor instead of a psychotherapist, and vice versa, but the most important step is to start. It may take some time to find a therapist you fully trust, and you may need to visit some providers to find the right person.please remember you Consumers can shop around. Personalities are different, and the best therapist for others may not be for you.