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Differences between Counselling and Psychotherapy

By December 4, 2020December 15th, 2022Blogs, Employee Assistance ProgramViews: 1331

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have led employees across organizations to acknowledge the high prevalence of mental and emotional distress and mental illnesses. Several employees have begun opening up about their mental health and emotional issues and are seeking needed help and guidance. If you are someone, who is going through any sort of emotional distress, chances are that you have considered assistance through counselling or psychotherapy.

But have you ever wondered about the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Here are some differences between Counselling and Therapy to help you arrive at an informed decision on the kind of assistance you or your loved ones may need.

  1. Counselling VS Therapy – the basic definitions:

Counselling is a practice that considers an individual’s(or a group’s) present emotional and intellectual state and specific issues they face and offers the necessary guidance and assistance to overcome their current problems. The term counselling in the context of psychology roughly translates to ‘to provide guidance.’

Psychotherapy involves psychodynamics (the systematic study of the psyche or the mind) to understand the reason for an individual’s emotional and mental state. Psychotherapy also considers and analyses past experiences to determine the cause of recurrence of chronic emotional distress. Psychotherapy programs focus on past experiences and feelings. Psychotherapy means treatment of the ‘psyche’ or the mind.

  1. The practitioners:

Counsellors are qualified professionals to offer counselling. Organizations offer counselling support through their Employee Assistance Programs to employees for their emotional wellness. Counsellors generally need a bachelor’s degree in psychology or related courses to take up counselling or wellness programs/workshops, and most of them have a master’s degree. In India, there is no certifying body to qualify a counsellor. But while approaching or appointing one for personal counselling or workshops and wellness programs, an employee or an organization should ensure that they have a master’s degree in psychology, counselling, social work, or a related field. They also need experience in the specific area of counselling they offer (school, relationship, family, addiction counselling, etc.)

On the other hand, Psychotherapists need to have compulsorily finished their masters, with extensive training in psychotherapy programs and field experience in their specializations, before setting up their own practice. Most established Psychotherapists complete their Ph.D., and they cannot practice without an approved license.

  1. What to expect in counselling and psychotherapy?

Counselling sessions/wellness programs are educational and informative, providing assistance and additional resources to an employee or any individual or a group to help sort out an emotional situation or a problem. Counselling further helps employees identify the core of their emotional or other troubles and provide the necessary assistance to solve them. The counselling sessions are generally short-term and vary from a few weeks to 6 months, by which time the problems are resolved.

Psychotherapy sessions and programs focus on chronic or recurring emotional behaviours. Sessions may include tests to understand brain activity, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other in-depth treatments to understand the problem and treat the illness or disorder accordingly.

Psychotherapy treatments are long-term and may last up to a year or may go on for prolonged periods, either intermittently or continuously.

  1. Focus of treatment:

Counsellors meet clients with relationship troubles, work-related stress, parenting guidance, or someone who needs assistance with a career. Actions, behaviours, and consequences are the prime focus in a counselling session or program. Counsellors also help clients learn skills that may help them mitigate stress, manage relationships, and improve their attitudes towards emotional situations and life in general. Counselling programs further offer assistance to individuals dealing with addictions, grief, or loss.

Psychotherapists treat patients with chronic mental health disorders, including clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, etc. The prime focus here is on the experiences and related feelings of the patients. Individuals under treatment for terminal illnesses also seek out psychotherapists to cater to their emotional well-being. Psychotherapists further help patients dealing with past trauma, PTSD, and extreme mood swings that hamper their day-to-day lives.

  1. Cost:

Counselling is less expensive than psychotherapy due to the differences in techniques, periods, and diagnostic tests involved in the treatment programs. However, the costs may vary for each counselling practitioner and the problem that they are dealing with.

Above are the most predominant differences between counselling and psychotherapy. It is usually a counsellor to whom we reach out first, who guides us to a psychotherapist if needed. Employees must be aware of this before opting for counselling.

While it may take a while to find a practitioner who works best for us, the first step of approaching someone makes all the difference in counselling and psychotherapy. Before reaching out to a counsellor or a psychotherapist, it is necessary to understand that trust is of utmost importance.

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