Counseling vs Therapy and what you need to know

counseling or therapy

Some people interchange the word counseling and therapy as if they were the same. The fact is they are not. This article is all about helping you understand what professionals do so you can make an informed decision when you are seeking the right type of professional help.


This article will help you understand the differences between different types of providers so you can find the right person for your needs. This article was prompted by people going to the wrong specialists and perhaps overpaying by selecting someone who is very over qualified for the issues they have. This article covers Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Hypnotherapists, and social workers.



Counseling is essentially professional advice. For example your lawyer is a legal counselor, and they would advise you in legal matters. Other counselors may be social workers who help guide you through procedures and other things related to social issues tied to local government. Also it is important to know that each counselor has a specific set of skills that you should ask about. For example a Marriage counselor may or may not have skills to talk about problem children or issues at school. That would likely be a school counselor who is geared to working with students and the typical issues they have.




Therapy is essentially helping a person achieve some goal they cannot do by themselves. For example if you suffered some injury you would likely go to physical therapy to get things working as they should. You may seek the help of a Hypnotherapist to stop smoking or drinking or to get over a phobia that you cannot manage yourself.


Deciding what is best counseling or therapy

As counseling is professional advice and information that is factual and to the point, you get it all good or bad. As your lawyer is a counselor and if you were in trouble with the law, your lawyer will tell you the bad news that it looks like you are going to jail. That for sure is not good news and not sugar coated. If you are too emotionally sensitive to bad news, then you should select therapy to help you cope.

A therapist on the other hand is there to help, so if a person is too sensitive and emotionally distraught, they adjust to the person they are helping. The raw full on counseling approach is not presented and smaller digestible steps are used for the person being helped. So kinder more gentle and even sugar coating is used if needed.


Selecting the right skill level to save money

It is easy to select someone who is overpowered for what you need, and some people think that is the best way. However when it comes to issues of mental health, being put on medication for something that can be easily resolved by working with a counselor or therapist is clearly the wrong approach. Starting medication can be a whole lot easier than stopping it. Some psychiatric medications are worse than heroin for being addictive. For example Mirtazapine otherwise known as Remeron is one of the worst to get off. Benzodiazepine is another that has a 34 month withdrawal regiment. So it is best to avoid that and let the professionals decide if you need to go to that level.

saving money


Social Workers

Social workers deal with social issues related to local government. If you need someone to help you fill out forms or refer you to some government service, they are the people to see. They are not the people who can help you with family issues, but they can refer you to someone who can. The best thing is this is all free as they are employees of the local government and your taxes pay their salary.

social worker



The first thing you should know is there are all types of Psychologists. They can range from Child Psychology to business marketing. The type of psychologist you would need is a Clinical Psychologist who deals with mental health issues, and they do perform therapy. It is also important to know there are different skill levels for Psychologists as well. for example a Clinical Psychologist with a 4 year bachelor degree can handle basic things that just require some minor intervention. A Clinical Psychologist with a 5 year Master degree can handle most anything in the area of therapy. A Clinical Psychologist with a Doctor degree has a very deep understanding more so than a Master degree. However given over time a Psychologist with a Master degree can acquire the skills of a Psychologist with a Doctor degree from field experience.




As with psychology there are different levels of skill. They are Hypnotist, Hypnotherapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist. In the area of Clinical Hypnotherapy, they are broken down in much the same way as Clinical Psychologists with level of education.

A Hypnotist is a person who knows some hypnosis but not enough to be a hypnotherapist. For example your dentist may be a Hypnotist and uses hypnosis to calm patients who are anxious or fearful of dentistry.

A Hypnotherapist is a person who has mastered the 8 basic hypnosis skills. They can deal with anxiety, stopping smoking, regression (not past life regression), dealing with fears or if you prefer phobias, stress management and a few other run of the mill issues people have.

A Clinical Hypnotherapist deals with mental health issues and has all the abilities a Clinical Psychologist has. The one big difference is hypnosis works in the subconscious mind while Clinical psychology works in the conscious mind. The other thing that is important to know is typically Clinical Hypnotherapy takes about 25% of the time of Clinical Psychology. The reason for this is the subconscious mind makes up about 95% of the mind and the conscious mind is only about 5%. Also mental health problems are rooted in the subconscious mind, so it make sense to go to where the problem is and not to the room next door.subconscious mind


One of the issues in the United States is a Hypnotherapist may not be able to display their credentials and that is a state by state thing. Although they may have the same level of training and essentially are the same, much of this is purely political and may be tied to licensing or the availability of licensing in some states. For example to be a Clinical Psychologist in California requires much more credentialing than being a Clinical Psychologist in Alabama or other states in that region.

One of the other reasons for this is hypnotherapy is now becoming mainstream and states have yet to catch up with regulating this new and accepted method in mental health. Many Clinical Psychologists also know Clinical Hypnotherapy and use it with the people that come to them for help. Even some Psychiatrists are getting on board with Clinical Hypnotherapy suggesting this is the next generation preferred method to deal with mental health issues.



Psychiatrists are truly the big guns of mental health. Of all the other types of mental health providers, a Psychiatrist is the only one who can hand out medication. That is why going to a Psychiatrist first is not a good idea as talked about above as they will likely want to medicate you first before exploring other options. So it is best to let a Clinical Psychologist or Clinical Hypnotherapist decide if you need to be bumped up to seeing a Psychiatrist. Medication should only be used when need and should never be first choice.

psychiatrists tools


So the bottom line is know what you need first, then go and find what you need second.


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