Counselling vs Psychology: 3 Critical Differences
Which one is right for you?
If you’re going through a tough time or are suffering from ongoing mental health concerns that affect your daily life, it’s a wise decision to seek out a therapist. Not only can therapy be an excellent place to air your concerns and talk to an objective and non-judgemental third party about what you’re going through, but you can also find realistic and actionable solutions to help tackle those things holding back your life. But who to see – a psychologist or a counsellor? When it comes to psychology vs counselling, there are a number of key differences. Here are three of the most significant differences between the two, to help you choose the right therapist for you.
1. Training and qualifications
For starters, while psychologists offer counselling services, it’s important to note that not all counsellors are psychologists. Counsellors are trained to offer general support for a vast range of client concerns, and generally focus on supporting clients through communicating about their concerns through talking, one-on-one, in a safe space.
Psychologists are qualified specialists in human behaviour, who have studied scientifically supported methods of therapy as well as studying in detail the science behind the mind, memory, human development, learning, and the processes that shape our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Whereas counselling (although involving some very effective techniques and methodologies) could best be described as ‘having a chat’ with a therapist about your concerns, sitting down with a psychologist means consulting with a registered practitioner, who is an expert in the human mind. All psychologists in Australia are required to be registered, just as medical practitioners are.
Although some counsellors may tend to specialise in certain areas, counsellors in general are trained to provide support to almost anyone, no matter what they’re going through. You might find counsellors in your local school (as guidance counsellors, for example), in social work environments, at places like Lifeline, or in their own practices, offering support services to the general public. If you’re seeking someone to talk to about your concerns, you might first seek out a counsellor. If, on the other hand, you’re experiencing a more specific concern, or life-threatening symptoms, your counsellor might refer you to a psychologist for specialised treatment. In this sense, you might compare counselling vs psychology, to your family GP vs your medical specialist. Whilst one offers great general support and a place to go when you’re seeking some general assistance, the other has more specialised training and experience for your particular concern.
Our final critical difference in counselling vs psychology is in the type of treatment that the two can offer. Counsellors, as the name suggests, offer ‘counsel’ to their clients. This involves talking to work through issues and can occur over one session or an ongoing series of sessions. Psychologists, however, can take things further by diagnosing specific mental health concerns and offering the appropriate treatment. It is important to note that treatment types and diagnoses will vary between practitioners.
Counselling vs psychology: Which is right for you?
Often, when it comes to the decision to see either a counsellor or a psychologist, the choice is made for you. For example, if you consult with your GP about feelings of depression or anxiety, they will likely make a referral to a psychologist. If you’re seeking out support from a therapist directly, you can choose to see a counsellor or a psychologist. Some questions you might ask yourself before seeking out a therapist are:
- What are my current concerns? (Are they specific or general, for example?)
- Do I have a previous diagnosis or set of concerns? (You might seek out a specialist in that area.)
- What type of therapy appeals to me or suits my needs at this time?
Sometimes, people fall into the trap of assuming that because psychologists are highly qualified, they are therefore ‘better’. That’s a common misconception. The therapist who’s right for you will be the one you feel comfortable with, who is able to help you with the needs you have at this time. That might be a psychologist or a counsellor!
Why not both?
At Integrated Health Specialists, we offer both counselling and psychology services. As a holistic practice, our approach considers not just the symptoms, but our client as a whole and complex being. That means looking deeply into both physiological and psychological symptoms with regards to not only the mind, but also the body and spirit. By using scientifically-backed psychological practices alongside a ‘whole person’ client-focused approach, we can uncover the underlying causes for your concerns and offer empowering solutions and strategies to help you discover the life you want.
Drawing on both counselling and psychology wisdoms, as well as our other specialties including hypnotherapy, nutritional psychology, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and more, we’ve developed a range of personal accelerator programs designed specifically to help you unlock your potential for personal growth, health and happiness. In these programs, we can address a wide range of concerns, including:
- Weight loss and fitness
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Kicking habits such as smoking
- Phobias and anxieties
- Motivation and procrastination
- Study habits and effectiveness
- Pain management, and more!
No matter what you’re struggling with, or what potential you’re hoping to unlock, our expertise and holistic approach at Integrated Health Specialists means we can tailor a program to suit you. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can work together with you, to uncover your best life.