In this guest article, Registered Psychologist JB Bacaoco shares the similarities and differences between psychotherapy and counseling to help you choose which is best suited for your mental health situation.

Counseling and psychotherapy are terms that are often used interchangeably because of their similarities. While they may appear to be too related, they have a lot of differences. Suppose you are someone who has been considering seeking professional help for your mental health concerns. In that case, you might be wondering which of the two interventions you might benefit from the most and which one is appropriate for your problems.

The pandemic and the implementation of community quarantine took a toll on our mental health. It brought a lot of uncertainties and sudden disruption from our previous routines. As an effect, many individuals experienced anxiety, sadness, anger, and other intense emotions. Hence, it is important to recognize that there is nothing wrong with seeking help for problems encountered because of the pandemic. As people become more open in considering seeking professional help, it is essential that they get educated about their options. Knowing the similarities and differences can provide valuable information when people decide to consult a mental health professional.

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Psychotherapy and Counseling: Similarities

Both psychotherapy and counseling are mental health services that can help individuals address their current problems. As psychological interventions, both use psychological theories and concepts to explain human behavior and understand the different factors that affect our mental health, such as biological, psychological, and social factors. These mental health interventions aim to help clients expand their coping mechanisms and discover ways to behave adaptively.

Psychotherapy and Counseling: Differences

While they may have their similarities, they also have distinctions that you must be aware of to decide which intervention you would benefit from the most, depending on your concerns.

Counseling is an intervention that usually focuses on common problems that we encounter in our daily routines, such as struggling with work productivity, making sound decisions, or maintaining relationships. It can be helpful for individuals whose concerns are not clinical. Counseling can help you widen your perspective in finding solutions to your problems and empower you in making decisions that can bring you closer to your goals. Usually, the duration of counseling is shorter compared to psychotherapy. Counseling is generally provided by a registered guidance counselor that is mostly based in the educational setting.

On the other hand, psychotherapy is an intervention that is provided to individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns and those who have been diagnosed with mental disorders. Through the treatment plan designed by the psychologist with the participation of the client, psychotherapy targets alleviating the symptoms of mental health problems. It also addresses the psychological and social factors that could have precipitated and perpetuated the client’s concerns. Some clients might also be working with important experiences during childhood and early teenage years to help understand the present circumstances. Thus, psychotherapy is usually longer than counseling because the past will be dealt with in the sessions. A licensed psychologist usually provides it. 

The Bottom Line

Depending on your concerns, you might benefit from both counseling and psychotherapy. It would help if you can identify the nature of your problems, so you know where to go for help. However, if you are unsure, you can seek counseling or psychotherapy, and the mental health professional will make sure that you get the mental health service that is appropriate for your concerns. 


This guest article was provided by Gray Matters Psychological Center. Don’t miss any of our informative health articles — subscribe to our newsletter now! Follow Top Medical Magazine on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to stay updated, too!