Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy

Main Difference – Counselling vs Psychotherapy

Counselling and Psychotherapy are two terms which are often confused by many individuals, especially due to its interchangeable usage in psychiatry and overlapping nature regarding several features. However, there are some significant features of them, which will help in distinguishing one from the other. The main difference between counselling and psychotherapy is that counselling is a short term process whereas psychotherapy is a long term process.

Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy - infographicWhat is Counselling

Counselling, which is also known as talk therapy, consists of a single conversation or a series of conversations, taking place between a psychologist and his client. It is a broadly used term in psychiatry, which goes hand in hand with treatments used for the enhancement of mental health. Counselling is also considered to be a specific kind of therapeutic approach, which will help an individual to overcome unnecessary emotions and behavioural patterns. The main objective of counselling is to make the client expose his distressing issues to a professional who has a deep knowledge about the human mind so that the client receives support to adjust himself in order to perform day to day activities in a normal and efficient manner.

For example, if a person is suffering from severe depression as a result of the loss of a loved one, proper counselling will assist him in an easy recovery from depressive feelings, and help him return to his normal way of life.

According to some health professionals, counselling should mainly focus on one problem at a time, thereby finding solutions in a logical way of thinking. In this case, a counsellor must show empathy towards the client, so that the client will feel comfortable to expose his true feelings, which will be very important in finding the most appropriate mode of therapy.

Main Difference - Counselling vs Psychotherap

What is Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, in contrast, is an evolutionary procedure which will support the client to develop a rational and clear vision about his long-standing attitudes, recurrent emotions, ways of thinking, behaviour, and personality, which might have resulted in current issues, in the quality of life and relationships with others.

Psychotherapy is also known to go deep into a particular matter in order to reveal the root cause that causes the related, disturbed perspective of life.  Ultimately, the client will relieve himself by taking the control of his life to himself and developing self-awareness, rather than getting triggered by unconscious impulses and simulations.

Psychotherapists are also aware of the individual’s soul, body and inner child, which might have made a negative impact on troublesome experiences. However, all these methods of revealing a person’s past life and his nature will eventually result in an effective and healing relationship between the client and psychotherapist which will be beneficial in creating a mentally healthy person.

Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy

Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy


Counselling: Counselling is a short term process, which focuses on one individual issue at a time, thereby finding a process to overcome it.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is a long-term process, which involves long periods of working with clients in order to uncover the foundation of the problem and address it in the most efficient direct or indirect manner.


Counselling: Counselling usually deals with clients with good coping skills who are fit enough to think rationally and find solutions to their problems by themselves when a little supporting hand is provided by the counsellor.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy mainly involves individuals who are dependent on the psychotherapist to gain control over their personality, mind, emotions and behavioural patterns. They might also need therapy from time to time with breakthrough periods, depending on the condition.


Counselling: Counselling also addresses issues in a less in-depth manner.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapists have intense and extensive knowledge about psychological theories and modalities of treatments. They will make clients dig into their past experiences, in order to understand their human development, cognitive and behavioural patterns, thereby enabling them to explore themselves, identify as strong individuals and get rid of negative senses, self-believes, and external stimulations.

Image Courtesy:

“Balanced Life Institute – Santa Monica Psychotherapy” By Bliusa – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Clinic Counselling Session” by hellocoolworld (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

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