Therapy and counselling - are they the same thing?

The lines between therapy and counselling are often blurred and are sometimes used interchangeably to describe mental health treatments.

However, while the two approaches overlap, there are a number of differences between them.

If you’re unsure about the difference between therapy and counselling, read our helpful guide below outlining everything that you need to know.

What is counselling?

Counselling sessions are carried out by professional counsellors who focus on identifying and implementing potential solutions to current issues or problems that are affecting their client’s life.

Many people turn to counselling as they are not comfortable discussing issues affecting their lives with family, friends, or colleagues. Instead, they wish to talk to an impartial trained specialist.

Counselling can be used to address a whole host of different issues, including many difficult life situations such as relationship breakdowns, divorce, bereavement, eating disorders, infertility, work-related stress, and more.

Counselling sessions focus on the present and on looking to the future, rather than delving into the past.

Whether a client has one or ten counselling sessions, processing their thoughts in order to develop solutions to overcome their difficulties can be life-changing. Ultimately, a counsellor’s role is to help find ways to resolve their clients’ current issues so that they no longer feel overwhelmed or troubled by their own thoughts.

And, just because counselling is about trying to solve problems in the present doesn’t mean that the issues brought to the table are not complex, distressing or cause high levels of stress and emotional trauma.

What is therapy?

Therapy is different from counselling because therapy sessions focus more on altering long-standing attitudes, behaviours, thoughts, and feelings, which impacted their client’s life.

Also known as a deeper form of counselling, therapy aims to uncover the root of the problem by delving into a client’s past and bringing to light the causes of the problem. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help shift perspectives and alter thought processes and feelings.

It gives clients the skills they need to understand how their mind works and what triggers certain behaviours. As a result, therapy can have a more significant impact on someone’s life, dramatically shifting their perspective, beliefs, and personality.

What are the main differences between counselling and therapy?

One of the main differences between therapy and counselling is that counselling tends to focus on short-term solutions whereas therapy focuses on resolving long term problems, looking deeper into the issue to understand why it exists in the first place.

Although therapy and counselling sessions both tend to be around 60 minutes, people in therapy tend to need a lot more sessions than those in counselling. This is mainly because therapists need to use a lot more techniques to get to the root of the problem.

Counselling typically focuses on one specific issue for a limited amount of time, while therapy helps patients understand their thought processes, feelings, and behaviours in a more general sense.

Find out more

If you’re considering becoming a counsellor, our counselling courses will help you develop the skills and experience you need to build trust with your clients and support them as they overcome their challenges. If you're looking to learn more before deciding which course is right for you, see how to become a counsellor with Chrysalis Courses. Alternatively, please get in touch if you require any further information or have any questions.