Counselling vs Psychotherapy

Something I’ve found confusing during the last 10 weeks of my course is differentiating the difference between Counsellor & psychotherapist. counselling’ and ‘psychotherapy’ – used to be used more interchangeable, but now it’s more defined by modality and other key factors.

What’s the difference between a counsellor  & a psychotherapist?

Both counsellors and psychotherapist work with people to identify a range of problems using counselling skills. However, Psychotherapy generally requires a higher level of training vs counselling, with most practitioners qualified at level 7 (master’s degree level). Psychotherapists are able to diagnose and treat more serious mental-health conditions (e.g. personality disorders or more complex mental health issues e.g psychosis). As a result of all of these factors, training is a lot longer and theories are more complex and dense.

Now, this is not to discredit counsellors and counselling training at all! Trust me, counselling studies is also complex and requires training up to a level 4 degree (minimum). However, counsellors work in a therapeutic manner compared to a psychotherapy process.

CThe key difference between the two courses of therapeutic communication treatment lies in the recommended time required to see benefits. Counselling usually refers to a brief treatment that centres around behaviour patterns. Psychotherapy focuses on working with clients for a longer-term and draws from insight into emotional problems and difficulties.

- Anna Martin (The Counsellors Guide)

counselling vs Psychotherapists approaches

A counsellor focuses on building the client > therapist relationship. Whether using humanistic person centred approach (the most common) psychodynamic or CBT. Counsellors tends to Focus on emotions, understanding where somebody’s coming from and specific problems. The focus may be on problem solving or on learning specific techniques for coping with or avoiding problem areas.

A psychotherapist focuses on psychological problems helping an individual to understand their feelings, thoughts and actions more clearly.

Qualifications & Training required for counsellors

Level 2 > GCSE Level

Level 3 > A Level

Level 4 > Diploma + 100 hours supervised practice & required to join an ethical body.

Level 5 > Focuses on working as private practitioner

Qualifications & Training required for psychotherapist 

Level 2 > Level 4 Counselling

Level 5 > Private practice optional

Level 6 > Bachelors Degree

Level 7 > Masters & Doctoral Degree

My journey

Im currently studying at Level 2 which has ignited a passionate interest in psychology. Personally, I am going to continue my training up to diploma level 4. At this moment in time I’m unsure if I will practice under the NHS or privately once qualified. 

I am currently leaning towards specialising in integrative and holistic approaches.

Once qualified & securing a job I will continue studying psychotherapy as I want to eventually work with Personality Disorders. If you read my pieces on Medium & Thrive Global I write on this subject you’ll understand why I’m so passionate about this.

you can follow my journey via my Instagram account where I’m sharing my study notes + thoughts about emotional well-being & personal development.