ErrorException Message: WP_Translation_Controller::load_file(): Argument #2 ($textdomain) must be of type string, null given, called in /home3/safesle1/public_html/wp-includes/l10n.php on line 838 Therapist Vs. Counselor 🧑‍⚕️ Differences Explained - Safe Sleep Systems

Therapist Vs. Counselor 🧑‍⚕️ Differences Explained

Therapists and counselors are two types of mental health professionals equipped to help people with a wide range of issues. However, therapists and counselors have different training, licensing requirements, and specialties. Depending on the treatment you seek, one may offer a more effective solution than the other.

A counselor often offers short-term care and focuses on giving patients tools to overcome their mental health concerns. A therapist often offers long-term care and focuses on getting to the root cause of the patient’s issues while providing coping strategies. 

Before seeking help with a mental health issue, explore the differences between a therapist and a counselor.

What Is a Therapist?

A therapist is an individual who is licensed to provide therapy services to the public. Therapists treat mental health conditions using verbal communication. You talk with a therapist to work out your problems and develop techniques for coping with trauma or anxieties. 

Therapists often work with patients across multiple sessions. Some patients may continue seeing a therapist indefinitely as a way to stay ahead of any mental health crises. 

Therapists require a state license to practice. However, they are not permitted to prescribe medication, which requires a psychiatrist. 

Different Types of Therapists 

The term “therapist” covers a wide range of mental health professionals regulated by the state. There are many different types of licensed therapists, including:

  • Addiction therapist
  • Behavioral therapist
  • Cognitive therapist
  • Child therapist
  • Divorce therapist
  • Family therapist

You can also find therapists who do not have one specific area of focus. Some therapists work with all types of people dealing with all types of issues. The one thing that they all have in common is the need to obtain a license before offering therapy services.

What Is a Counselor?

A counselor is another type of licensed mental health professional who works with patients through verbal communication. You can discuss your concerns and receive advice for overcoming your issues. 

While a therapist offers ongoing therapy, a counselor typically works with a patient for a set number of sessions or until the patient reaches a specific milestone. 

For example, a grief counselor may see a patient until they overcome their grief. A marriage counselor may continue working with a couple until they resolve a specific marital issue or concern.

Different Types of Counselors 

As with therapists, counselors often focus on helping patients with specific issues. Some of the different types of counselors available include:

  • Addiction counselor
  • Marriage counselor
  • Family counselor 
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Grief counselor

There are also many general mental health counselors. Many counselors work at hospitals and mental health facilities. Individuals who require an assessment or need court-ordered counseling may see a counselor who works with the state or local healthcare facilities. 

Similarities Between Therapists and Counselors

Therapists and counselors have many similarities, as both types of mental health professionals treat a variety of mental health disorders. Therapists and counselors provide patients with support and guidance for dealing with various emotional and psychological concerns, such as depression.

Both types of professionals are qualified to assist with most mental health issues. Therapists and counselors employ a variety of techniques to help patients understand their emotions and behaviors. You may receive advice and strategies for dealing with your mental health concerns when visiting a therapist or a counselor. 

Therapists and counselors also need a license in their state. All states require therapists and counselors to meet specific educational requirements before obtaining a license. Both professions are also found in a variety of settings, including private practices and hospitals.

Check out: Therapist Vs. Psychologist

Differences Between Therapists and Counselors

Therapists and counselors have many differences related to education, treatment methods, and specialties. The licensing requirements also vary for both professions from one state to another. Here is a closer look at some of the main differences between therapists and counselors.


Counselors and therapists must obtain a graduate degree in a mental health-related field of study. Both professionals also require thousands of hours of clinical experience through supervised sessions or internships. 

While the requirements vary depending on the type of therapy or counseling offered, most states require these professions to obtain a graduate-level degree. The degree must be in a mental health-related field of study, such as psychology.

All states also require counselors and therapists to obtain a license after meeting the educational requirements. The licensing process varies from one state to the next, but therapists and counselors often need to pass an exam developed by a national organization.

The educational requirements are similar for therapists and counselors, but they receive different training. Therapists and counselors often need to complete a degree program approved by a leading certifying body in their field.

For example, therapists may need to complete programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREPE). Counselors may need to complete programs approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). 


Therapists and counselors offer a variety of treatment options to help patients address mental health issues and emotional challenges. Most forms of treatment involve discussing your issues in a comfortable office setting. Thanks to online platforms, you can also arrange virtual therapy with qualified therapists in your state.

Therapists and counselors are both qualified to treat a variety of mental health conditions. They can help provide strategies for coping with daily challenges. However, treatment from a therapist is more likely to include a deeper look at the cause of your mental health concerns.

A therapist wants to get to the root of the problem, while a counselor typically wants to offer some form of relief in the short amount of time that you have together. Treatment from a therapist may involve many sessions with no specific end date. Treatment from a counselor is more likely to include a set number of sessions. 

Along with a different number of sessions, you may receive a different type of treatment depending on whether you visit a therapist or a counselor. Therapists may offer one of the following types of treatment:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Talk therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy. It is a form of therapy that involves challenging your behaviors and thoughts. A therapist may use CBT to help alter undesired behaviors or thought patterns. It is often used to treat anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. 

Talk therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves discussing your thoughts and feelings with a therapist. Your therapist then offers insight into the reasons behind your thought patterns. They may then provide suggestions for changing your thought patterns and resolving emotional challenges.

While there are also many approaches to counseling, many counselors use behavioral counseling to assist patients. Behavioral counseling involves helping patients deal with unwanted behaviors, such as overeating or anxiety. 


Specialties are common for both therapists and counselors. In fact, many therapists and counselors specialize in the same areas of treatment, such as:

  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy/counseling
  • Family therapy/counseling
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Eating disorders
  • Teen issues
  • Trauma therapy/counseling

Choosing a therapist or counselor who specializes in treating the issues that you are facing is often helpful but not always required. Most therapists and counselors are equipped to address almost any mental health concern. However, they cannot prescribe medications.

Some treatments may require prescription medications. For example, individuals suffering from psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, may need medications prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Check out: Betterhelp Vs. Calmerry

How Do Therapists and Counselors Work Together?

The work of therapists and counselors often overlap, as both professions involve helping patients using various forms of psychotherapy. However, they do not often work together. A patient is more likely to see one or the other instead of both. 

While therapists and counselors rarely work together, they may work with other mental health professionals. 

For example, a therapist or a counselor may refer you to a psychiatrist if they believe that your issue would benefit from prescription medication. Individuals suffering from psychotic disorders and personality disorders may need medications prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Should You See a Therapist, a Counselor, or Both?

Anyone dealing with a mental health crisis should seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are great listeners, which can help ease some of the stress of your situation. However, therapists tend to provide more long-term care, while counselors focus on short-term relief. 

If you have complex mental health issues that stem from unresolved trauma, a therapist may offer the treatment options that you need. A therapist is more likely to help dig into your past and uncover the cause of your trauma. They can help identify the reasons behind your current thoughts and feelings and find ways to move forward. 

If you have a specific challenge that you need help coping with or overcoming, a counselor may offer the most efficient option. You can receive advice for dealing with your issue and moving forward. However, you are unlikely to need to see both a therapist and a counselor. 

Therapists and counselors often provide help for the same issues. Seeing a therapist and a counselor for a single issue may result in conflicting treatment plans. The advice you receive from your therapist may contradict the advice you receive from your counselor. 

Seeing a therapist and a counselor at the same time may make sense in specific situations. For example, you may have a therapist that you see to address your ongoing depression and anxiety. However, you may prefer to see a counselor that specializes in marriage, family, or addiction for addressing separate issues that may only require short-term treatment. 

Check out: Therapist Vs. Psychiatrist

How to Choose a Therapist or a Counselor 

Choosing a therapist or a counselor is a personal decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some of the steps to follow to find the right mental health professional for you:

  1. Determine your needs
  2. Research different specializations
  3. Ask for referrals
  4. Search for help online 
  5. Consider your insurance coverage
  6. Schedule an initial consultation
  7. Ask questions
  8. Consider compatibility 

You should first determine your needs. Think about what you hope to gain from therapy or counseling and the issues that you want to address. 

Thinking about the issues that you want to address and what you hope to achieve can help determine whether you should see a specialist. Many therapists and counselors specialize in different areas of their respective fields. 

If you suffer from grief, you may want to see a grief counselor. If you suffer from addiction, an addiction therapist or counselor may make more sense.

After deciding whether you need to see a specialist, start asking for referrals. Ask friends, family, or your primary care physician for recommendations. You may also search online for therapists and counselors in your area or use an online platform for therapy. 

Keep in mind that not all therapists and counselors accept insurance. If you are worried about the cost of mental health services, look for a therapist or counselor who accepts your insurance. 

When you find a therapy or counseling option that suits your needs, schedule an initial consultation. The initial consultation gives you a chance to ask questions to determine if the therapist or counselor is the right fit for you. After the initial session, consider your compatibility before scheduling the next session.

Final Words

Therapists and counselors help patients address mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. While the terms “therapist” and “counselor” are often used interchangeably, they are two separate professions. 

States have different licensing requirements for therapists and counselors. They also complete different training programs and certification programs. 

The main difference between the two comes down to the types of treatment provided. Counselors and therapists can provide advice for dealing with a wide range of issues. However, a therapist tends to go deeper by helping you understand how and why your issues occur. They try to resolve the core issues leading to your current problems. 

If you have a specific issue that you want to treat immediately, such as dealing with grief or addiction, consider working with a counselor. You can receive a goal-oriented approach for addressing your issue in a few sessions.

If you have any major mental health concerns that are likely to require ongoing treatment, a therapist may be a better option. It is important to explore your options to ensure that you receive the treatment you need.

Check out: Talkspace Vs. Calmerry


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