Difference between Counseling and Therapy

Key Difference: Counseling is not only limited to one field and can be used across various places. A counselor is basically a person who is an expert in a certain field of study. There are various types of counselors including medical, health, physical, career, law, etc. Therapy is also distinguished by various different fields such as physical therapy, mental therapy, music therapy, psychotherapy. Therapy is defined as, “therapeutic treatment especially of bodily, mental, or behavioral disorder.” In a nutshell, many aspects of therapy and counseling overlap making them synonymous.

Life isn’t always a smooth road and has its ups and downs. While few people can deal with these ups and downs fairly well, others need a little extra help trying to cope with the many problems that life can offer. It isn’t always easy to brush off and walk away, some problems need that special person who can understand the person’s mindset and problems and can help them try to understand and differentiate between what is important and what isn’t. Two methods that are used to help alleviate stress are known as ‘Counseling’ and ‘Therapy’. In some context these words differ from each other, while in the other context they are used synonymously.

Counseling is not only limited to one field and can be used across various places. The term ‘counseling’ is defined by Merriam Webster as, “professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes.” A counselor is basically a person who is an expert in a certain field of study.

There are various types of counselors including medical, health, physical, career, law, etc. Looking at a person’s needs, wants and desires, a counselor can help the patient discover or guide the patient to what is best for them. Though other types of counseling such as career or guidance counselors are short term, certain mental health counselors can also work long term on certain cases depending on how much guidance or help a person needs. Though, the main job of a counselor is to provide information and give advice (such as attorneys or career counselors), medical health counselors focus more on trying to get the patient to figure out the best option for them and encourage them to trust themselves and pick a choice that they want.

This is where counseling and therapy start to overlap. Therapy is also distinguished by various  different fields such as physical therapy, mental therapy, music therapy, psychotherapy, etc. Psychotherapy is the closest related to counseling. Therapy is defined as, “therapeutic treatment especially of bodily, mental, or behavioral disorder.” Psychotherapy is defined in medical terms as, “treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by psychological means especially involving verbal communication (as in psychoanalysis, nondirective psychotherapy, reeducation, or hypnosis).”

Therapy could refer to physical therapy, which one goes through after surgery or fracture or prolonged non-use of a body part. It could also include mental therapy, which is a basic discussion of a certain problems that may be plaguing a person. In psychotherapy, the medical practitioner tries to treat a patient that has gone through or is going through an emotional or psychological turmoil. Psychotherapy aims to increase the individual's sense of his/her own well-being.

In a nutshell, many aspects of therapy and counseling overlap making them synonymous. Both these can be used to alleviate stress, pain and other problems that maybe bothering a person. A person that counsels is known as a counselor, while a person who provides therapy is known as counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. 

Image Courtesy: cpcc.edu, coaching-journey.com

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