Looking for professional help, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult topics like mental health and psychological problems can be overwhelming as it is. It can get even more nerve-wracking when you are faced with terms such as ‘therapists’ and ‘counsellors.’
To a layman, these terms might be interchangeable and mean the same thing. However, those who belong to the field will know the slight difference between the two.
If you are looking for help for yourself or for someone you know, then knowing the difference between the terms can be beneficial. Once you know precisely what you are looking for, you will know where to look as well.
Although the terms are interchangeable and the line between them is somewhat blurry, the difference between these two can be defined by the duration of time for which each of them conducts their job with each client or patient.
To make it simpler, a counselling session usually is short term. It lasts for just a handful of sessions with each patient, and it focuses on identifying specific problems, finding and implementing their solutions.
More often than not, these problems are not life-threatening, severe, and are related to some current issues in the patient’s life. As for therapy, the sessions are usually mid to long term.
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The role of a therapist is far more wide scope- it deals with attitudes, behaviours, feelings, thoughts, and even traumas that have shaped an individual’s thought process and, subsequently, their life.
A therapist’s job is to not only unravel the underlying issues but also provide long term therapy, which will help the patient change their perspective, their habits, and their very behaviour. These changes allow the individual to enjoy a better quality of life, relationships, and work-life.
Detailed Difference Between Counsellor and Therapist:
To counsel, someone means to give them advice. The job of a counsellor is to provide guidance to an individual with current problems or issues in various aspects of their life and give them the tools to implement the advice for betterment.
There can be many different types of counselling, most of which we have already heard about. Financial planning is a form of counselling. As is career planning, however, spiritual guidance can also be a form of counselling.
Any time when an individual requires guidance and specific steps to bettering a situation in their lives, the professional who gives them this advice is a counsellor.
It is interesting to note that the process that occurs between a therapist and their patient is also counselling.
Here are some of the main points to know about counselling:
- It offers advice and guidance, focusing on current problems and situations
- It is a short term process, lasting anywhere from just a few sessions for a few days, weeks, or up to 6 months.
- Counselling focuses on specific actions, behaviours, and attitudes of a person.
- It provides action-based solutions
- It mainly talks about therapy, where the counsellor offers their advice and guidance verbally to their patient
Therapy sessions are typically mid to long term, lasting either continually or intermittently for a few years, or even for a lifetime. Therapists have a much broader scope and have to delve into a patient’s psyche to isolate and understand a problem.
These problems can affect a person’s attitudes, behaviours, thoughts, which can cause significant destabilization in various aspects of their lives.
Counsellors after refer their patients to therapists who have the necessary skills and qualifications to further delve into the emotional psyche of a patient to find out not only what disturbs them, but why it does, and how this can be fixed permanently.
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Here are some of the main points to know about therapists:
- A therapist will need to develop a close bond of trust, faith, and honesty between themselves and each one of their patients. This bond allows the patient to slowly open up and discuss matters which are buried deep down in their psyche.
- A therapists job is to ‘look inside’ the patient and bury deeper than the surface level; the therapist can unravel the deep-rooted cause of a problem which even the individual themselves were not aware of
- The sessions usually last for a couple of years, to even an entire lifetime; as long as the patient needs it to
- Therapists offer guidance and tools which can completely modify and alter the thinking of an individual, their perception of certain situations and people, and even their long term mentalities. It is a long and cumbersome process.
- The therapy sessions deal with smaller details to seemingly more significant issues or vice versa.
- Therapy branches out more than merely verbal counselling- there are therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, talk therapy, audio and visual therapy, hypnotism, and the patient might have to take several tests such as intelligence tests and personality tests.
- It focuses on in-depth issues, thoughts, and feelings and helps the patient slowly but surely become more comfortable with being aware of oneself and core issues. The result of the therapy leads to the personal growth of the patient.
Although the goal of counselling and therapy are almost the same, the advice is a secondary process, while treatment is the primary process. While the main counsellor’s focus is to look at the ‘outside’ of the patient and offer guidance and advice, the therapist’s focus is on the ‘inner’ side of the patient.
Instead of merely offering advice and guidance, the therapist delves much deeper into the core of an individual’s mind, to find and solve the long-standing issues.
Depending upon your need of the hour, you can choose whether you would instead get help from a counsellor or a therapist. In case you are still not sure about it, it can be a good idea to ask your GP for more guidance.
Both these processes can be somewhat overwhelming, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Therapy and counselling sessions can do wonders, whether you need guidance on financial issues, school, and career, or relationship problems.
Accepting a problem and moving forward to get professional help is the very first step to bettering certain aspects of your life; permanently.