Difference Between Clinical and Counseling Psychology

Main Difference – Clinical vs Counseling Psychology

Many people find it difficult to differentiate clinical psychology and counseling psychology from one another because of the huge overlap between them. This is mainly due to the fact that they share a lot of common features, and many psychologists tend to work in both these entities of psychology under one roof. Often, they both tend to work in similar working settings like hospitals, academic institutions, college counseling centers, etc. In addition, the term ‘clinical’ is often used in a generic sense by legislators to address any psychologist who has been authorized to provide health care services in various medical settings. The main difference between clinical and counseling psychology is that counseling psychology deals more with vocational assessment and cross culture psychology whereas clinical psychology deals with  psychopathological conditions.Difference Between Clinical and Counseling Psychology- infographic

What is Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a field of psychology that involves the provision of health care, diagnosis, and treatment for people who are mentally ill with behavioral, emotional or any other psychiatric disorder. Their therapeutic methods basically depend on individual requirements and are carried out in individual, couple or group sessions. Clinical psychologists, also create various behavioral modification modalities, which will help to drive patients towards their individual goals and ambitions.

Main Difference - Clinical vs  Counseling Psychology

18th-century treatments for psychological distress was based on Phrenology.


What is Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is a specialized field of healthcare, which involves the provision of psychological therapy, focused mainly on healthy individuals who have very few pathological mental disturbances. They are well known to provide pathological assessments and therapy for various individuals, families and couples, using multiple and evidence-based treatment strategies depending on the necessities. They will also support patients to identify issues experienced in the community or family, thereby paving the way to find solutions following a doctor-patient session. These sessions involve the identification of individual capacities, strengths, and weaknesses, which can be used to solve their problems on their own at the end of the day. Moreover, counseling psychologists are known to have an innate ability to create a very comfortable environment and doctor-patient setting in their workplace, so that patients will not feel any hesitancy to reveal their issues to a complete stranger.

Difference Between Clinical and Counseling Psychology

Difference Between Clinical and Counseling Psychology


It is compulsory to have a doctoral degree, in order to become legally qualified as a professional psychologist and it is optional to complete a Ph.D. or Psy. degree to get qualified further.

Clinical psychology: Clinical psychologists usually obtain a Psy.D, which is focused on practical skills and examinations rather than a final dissertation.

Counseling psychology: PhD in counseling mainly consists of a research study, comprehensive exam and a dissertation based on study followed by one-year internship of practical exposure in a setting of counseling psychology.

Treatment Strategies

Clinical psychology: Psycho- analytic skills and behavioral issues are the major concerns of a clinical psychologist.

Counseling psychology: Counseling psychologist gives prominence to humanistic and client-based strategies.


Clinical psychology: Clinical psychological services are more based in hospitals and nursing homes.

Counseling psychology: Counseling services usually take place in academic institutions.

Research Studies

Clinical psychology: Clinical psychologists are usually interested in psychopathological conditions, and they study about mental disorders, their diagnosis and methods of treatment.

Counseling psychology: Counseling psychologists are more interested in vocational assessment and cross culture psychology.

However, it is important to know that there is a very thin line of demarcation between these two fields of psychology where a patient should know whom to consult and looked for help, depending on their individual conditions and concerns.

Image Courtesy:

“Delta College Counseling and Career Services” By Jefferyrauschert – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Phrenology1” – scanned by de:Benutzer:Summi – Friedrich Eduard Bilz (1842–1922): Das neue Naturheilverfahren (75. Jubiläumsausgabe) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music