What is the difference between therapy and counseling?
The two terms are often used interchangeably to mean working with a mental health professional to help solve various problems in your life. However, some mental health professionals make a distinction between therapy and counseling.
- “Therapy” (a shortened form of “psychotherapy”) refers to a longer-term, more in-depth approach to address and solve the client’s problems or concerns. It often focuses on gaining insight into persistent and lasting problems, looking more generally at the client’s thought processes and his or her way of being in the world rather than specific problems.
- “Counseling” refers to a short-term, focused approach to solve a client’s more specific problems or concerns. It often targets a particular symptom or difficult situation and offers suggestions and advice for dealing with it
In practice there may be an overlap between therapy and counseling. A therapist may provide counseling with specific situations and a counselor may function in a psychotherapeutic manner. Generally speaking, however, therapy requires more skill than simple counseling. It is conducted by professionals trained to practice therapy. While a therapist is qualified to provide counseling, a counselor may or may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide therapy.
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