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What is the Difference Between Counseling & Psychotherapy?

The terms Counseling and Psychotherapy are often used interchangeably. Though they have similar meanings with considerable overlap, there are some important distinctions between the two that are helpful to keep in mind when looking for a mental health care provider.

What is Counseling?

Counseling, sometimes called “talk therapy,” is a conversation or series of conversations between a counselor and client. Counseling usually focuses on a specific problem and taking the steps to address or solve it. Problems are discussed in the present-tense, without too much attention on the role of past experiences.

Though the titles “counselor” and “advisor” are often used like synonyms, counselors rarely offer advice. Instead, counselors guide clients to discover their own answers and support them through the actions they choose to take. In Colorado, counselors can earn Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) status by satisfying a number of educational, experience, and testing requirements over a period of years.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, like counseling, is based on a healing relationship between a health care provider and client. Psychotherapy, or therapy for short, also takes place over a series of meetings, though often it has a longer duration than counseling. Some people participate in therapy off and on over several years.

Instead of narrowing in on individual problems, psychotherapy considers overall patterns, chronic issues, and recurrent feelings. This requires an openness to exploring the past and its impact on the present. The aim of psychotherapy is to resolve the underlying issues which fuel ongoing complaints. Psychotherapists help to resolve past experiences as part of laying the foundation for a satisfying future.

Many psychotherapists are open to and interested in wisdom from a variety of sources: the body, the unconscious, and the inner child, to name a few possibilities. Therapists should be comfortable working with strong feelings, traumatic memories, and the therapeutic relationship.

Psychotherapy is not a licensed profession in Colorado. Colorado psychotherapists must register with the Department of Regulatory Agencies, but they do not have specific training or educational requirements.

How do I Choose Between Counseling & Psychotherapy?

Don’t worry, choosing between Counseling & Psychotherapy is not as important as finding a mental health care provider who is a good fit. Research shows that the connection between counselor/therapist and client is the most important factor in successful outcomes. However, you can narrow your search for a counselor or psychotherapist by considering the following things:

  • Do you have a single concern that you would like to get some feedback on? Consider counseling.
  • Have you noticed a pattern of problems or concerns that seems to keep coming up? Consider psychotherapy.
  • Are you typically satisfied with your life and relationships, and just looking for a sounding board? Consider counseling.
  • Is it time to address previous trauma or family patterns that are keeping you from feeling good in your own skin? Consider psychotherapy.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado. I am a trained psychotherapist in the use of EMDR, body-centered psychotherapy, and relational psychotherapy. My background in counseling and psychotherapy enhances my ability to work with a variety of clients with a wide array of concerns. I am interested in your current needs–whether that is talking things over with a counselor or exploring old belief systems in psychotherapy–and I switch fluently from one role to the other.

If you would benefit from counseling, psychotherapy, or a customized blend of the two, please feel free to contact me today.