Difference Between A Counselor and a Therapist

If the field of mental health is your niche, you’d be surprised to know the number of job titles and career paths that are available to pursue. While this diversity can help you align your career and interests, understanding the differences among the potential roles to choose the “right” path is important. 

Therapists, psychologists, and counselors are all mental health professionals. They all help individuals in dealing with certain issues that are related to their mental health. There is an overlap between these careers however, all these professionals work to improve the emotional and mental health of clients. The primary difference between a psychologist falls in the techniques and frameworks that they use, which are different from that of counselors and therapists. Additionally, psychologists are more likely than counselors to treat patients with severe mental disorders. In the following blog, we’ll be discussing the difference between a therapist and a counselor.

A counselor refers to a professional that is trained in the field of psychology, social work, counseling, etc. A mental health counselor works in a mental health capacity and is primarily responsible for providing educational and informational resources to their clients. They also make suggestions that might offer a solution-focused approach to the specific problems of the client. The issues that are usually tackled by a counselor include- substance abuse, sexual abuse, marriage, relationships, family counseling, etc.

A therapist is professionally trained to offer some kind of therapy to the client that addresses a mental or a physical disorder. In the context of mental health, the terms mental health therapist and psychotherapist are used interchangeably. The key difference between counselors and therapists lies in the approach to treatment that they take.

As a practice, counseling often addresses specific and individual problems, challenges, or behaviors in a patient’s life in a very practical way. A counselor working with a patient who suffers from anxiety might, for example, provide the patient with different techniques that they can use to keep off a pending panic attack or something that will help them manage it if they have one. Counseling follows a problem-solving approach. 

Therapists work to help their patients address similar issues, and often provide the same advice that counselors might. However, a key difference is that therapists often seek to go deeper by helping the patient understand the how and why behind a challenge. For example, what situations are more likely to trigger a panic attack and why? 

As such, counseling is often (though not always) a short-term approach, that helps the client equip themselves with certain techniques and tools to help them begin living a more healthy life. Therapy, on the other hand, is often a longer-term process that can last months or even years as the therapist and client seek out the root of the issues. It is aimed at making a lasting change.


Though all of these careers are related in some ways, the differences between them are significant and can change the trajectory of your career path. It can also influence your decision if you ever decide to seek professional mental help.


Leave a comment