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Is Counseling and Therapy The Same?

My Name is Emily and I want to be a Marriage/Family Therapist One Day. I was just wondering if counseling and Therapy are the same because I am having trouble comparing and Contrasting the two.

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Emily !

What a wonderful career choice ! I would be happy to help you understand the difference between counseling and therapy. I hope it makes it easier to understand. Once you start your academics, it will become more clear and well defined.

Counseling is basically advice, information, reassurance and support. Many people do counseling: doctors, case managers, nurses, advocates, homeless services staff, academic guidance staff, teachers, clergy, etc. Therapy, on the other hand, is only done by mental health professionals such as Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Clinical Social Workers. These professionals are members of medical insurance and can get reimbursed by medical insurance for their services. Therapy is the path toward treatment for patients. There are techniques used such as behavioral modification and analysis to help individuals with a wide variety of issues they may be experiencing. Psychology professionals learn these techniques in college and apply them to their work. Their work is therapeutic.

It is sort of a polite behavior to remember to not refer to a Social Worker or Psychologist as someone who does counseling. Counseling is a general term and done by lay people in many different instances.

It is very insightful for you to be inquiring about this and shows that you are thinking and learning about your future career. I hope that this was helpful and I wish you all the best !
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Emily
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Emily ! Michelle M.
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Femi’s Answer

Hi Emily, it’s nice to meet you. I’m glad to hear that you have an interest in becoming a marriage/family therapist.

Counseling and therapy are both types of mental health services that can help people cope with various issues and improve their well-being. However, they are not exactly the same. Here are some of the main differences between counseling and therapy:

Counseling tends to be shorter-term, goal-oriented, and focused on specific problems or situations. For example, counseling can help you deal with stress, grief, addiction, or relationship conflicts. Counseling often involves learning coping skills, problem-solving strategies, and communication techniques.
Therapy tends to be longer-term, more exploratory, and holistic. It aims to address the underlying causes of your problems, such as your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors. Therapy can help you understand yourself better, change unhealthy patterns, and heal from past traumas. Therapy often involves using different approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or interpersonal therapy.
Counselors and therapists have different qualifications, training, and licensing requirements. Counselors usually have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, and they must pass a state exam and complete supervised hours to obtain a license. Therapists can have different degrees, such as a master’s or a doctorate in psychology, social work, or marriage and family therapy. They also have to meet the state criteria for licensure, which may vary depending on their specialty.
Both counseling and therapy can be beneficial for your mental health, depending on your needs and goals. You may also find that some professionals use both terms interchangeably, or offer both types of services. The important thing is to find a licensed and qualified mental health professional who can provide you with the best care and support.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Emily
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Ali’s Answer

Hey Emily - that's a noble career path and one that is absolutely needed these days. In the context of providing services, counseling and therapy are used interchangeably and often you learn the techniques to provide both through your schooling. The main aspect to also understand is certifications/licensing after your schooling that helps to legally call yourself a therapist.

"Counseling" is like giving advice and support for specific issues in a relationships, such as communication or fighting. It's usually short-term and focused on finding solutions.
"Therapy" goes deeper. It's about understanding the emotions and past experiences that affect a relationships. Therapy helps couples/families learn and grow together over time.

Both counseling and therapy aim to make relationships stronger and happier.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Emily
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Sairam’s Answer

Marriage counselling and marriage therapy share subtle differences in how they are practices depending on the therapist's approach and training. Both are aim to help couples navigate and resolve conflicts, improve communication, and strengthen their relationship. The terms are often used synonymously, to describe the process of seeking professional help for marital or relationship issues.

All the best!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Sairam. Emily
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Pothuri’s Answer

counseling is a sub sequent term of therapy or light version of therapy. Therapy involves in much more complex issues resolution and multiple sessions. Where as counseling means it focuses on problem and short term duration of sessions which would resolve the issues. I hope this helps
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Emily
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