When you search for counselling and psychotherapy courses online, you’re likely to also come across online training to become a therapist. This naturally raises the question about the differences between therapy and counselling. Are they in fact the same thing?
Well, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, as the lines between the two disciplines can be a little blurred at times. A counselling certificate will prepare you for a very specific role, whereas to fulfill a therapy position, your training needs to focus on different aspects of mental and emotional support.
So, to avoid any more confusion, we now look at the two in isolation.
CounsellingWhen you go and see a counsellor, you’re not going to have a complete psychological evaluation. That’s because a counsellor focuses very much on the present and any roadblocks you’re currently facing and their job is to help you find solutions to help you move past them. You may touch on the past, but you won’t be asked to delve deep down into your family past.Of course, studying for your counselling certificate will arm you with the skills and knowledge you need to perform the role which include:
Think of counselling as an informal chat with someone who isn’t going to judge you and is going to be something of a confidant and sounding board for you to work out any problems you might have. Counselling is typically a short-term measure and will involve just a few sessions.
TherapyWhilst some of the skills learnt on your counselling certificate would apply in the world of therapy, there are some fundamental differences. Therapy focuses on long-term solutions, as it’s about addressing well-established feelings, behaviours and thoughts that have caused long-standing issues.
Therapy delves deep into the root causes of emotional issues and it typically results in much more profound changes in a person’s life. It can have a major impact on a person’s beliefs, feelings, beliefs and perspective on life, as it’s all about providing the person in therapy with a tool kit with which they can self-reflect and understand their own unconscious triggers. Therapy is usually a much longer process and could involve sessions on an ongoing open-ended basis. The skills used by the therapy practitioner are largely similar to those needed in counselling, but the process is a very different one due to the fundamental nature of the issues faced.
In SummaryIn short, counselling focuses on the ‘here and now’ and therapy deals with past traumas and events that have shaped a person’s current state of being. Your counselling certificate will prepare you for a position in that field, whereas training to become a therapist can also be a much longer process.