It is very common and understandable to think counselling and psychotherapy are ultimately the same thing.

In truth, they have elements that make them quite different.

Even though they are not mutually exclusive and can be used as a combination therapy, these are differences people should be familiar with.

To simplify the differences and make the process quick, a basic overview of both practices is provided in this article.

These should clearly help to make the distinction between the purpose of a counsellor and psychotherapist.

And take note that some therapists prefer the term counsellor, as this presents a more informal atmosphere.

However, following is what everyone should know in terms of counselling and psychotherapy practices.


  • Focused on short-term treatment

For the most part, counselling is used on a short-term basis. For example, couples having marital problems tend to consult with a counsellor for help.

This is because they need to work past the problem and not rely on permanent counselling to hold the relationship together.

The same goes for individuals that want to adopt healthier lifestyles, but find it hard to take the first step.

Not to mention people wanting more self-confidence and motivation.

Ultimately, counselling speaks to a broad spectrum of short-term treatment with long-term effects.

  • Typically handles behaviour challenges and issues

Another distinct difference is the focus of the sessions. Counselling aims to help control behaviour and active thought patterns.

While exploring emotions and thoughts is part of the session, creating a positive change or helping to cope with trauma is the main priority.

This also explains why schools and support lines have counsellors ready to assist and not psychotherapists.

However, psychotherapists are also qualified to act as counsellors.

  • Recommended for individuals who already have a goal in mind

Given that counselling is more about looking forward while searching for solutions, it is recommended for those who already recognise the source of the problem.

More specifically, couples with marital problems know exactly why they are going to seek counselling.

Just like people with eating disorders know why they are making an appointment.


  • Focused on long-term treatment

When a psychotherapist takes on a patient, it usually continues indefinitely.

Even though this may sound like a bit of an extreme comparison, a session is not like going through torture.

Instead, time and patience will be required in order to reach deeper levels, where the source of the problem is most likely hiding.

Unlike those that choose to get counselling, psychotherapy is about dissecting and reconstructing emotional problems.

  • Typically treats psychological issues

Psychotherapy patients tend to live with problems that have been around for years.

Chances are the issues are deep and complicated, which makes it harder to treat. In fact, there is no guarantee that a solution will ever be found.

However, the act of addressing the issue and engaging it can be very effective.

  • Recommended for individuals in search of direction

Psychotherapy is the better choice for individuals without a sense of direction.

If confusion and frustration are all that seems to make any sense, it is recommended to consult with a psychotherapist.


It is true that modern individuals want to live healthier lives, on both a physical and emotional level.

A healthy state of mind makes the challenges of life much easier to cope with.

If you are looking for professional personal counselling, Chila & Associates can assist you and can also help out with life management.

Our counselling can help you rebuild your relationships and develop the skills necessary to manage any type of crisis confronting you.

Please call us today on 1800 331 441 or contact us through our website to make an appointment.