Comparing Counselling & Psychotherapy

Counselling and psychotherapy are both practiced within confidential settings with clear ethical boundaries.

The Gestalt approach to both is evidence based and proven effective for supporting clients to resolve emotional, psychological and relationship issues.

Both lead to increased self-awareness, resilience and wellbeing.

However there are some key differences between Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Key Differences


  • Counselling is a short-term process that encourages the change of perceptions, behaviours and beliefs.
  • Helps people identify problems and crises and support them to take positive actions to resolve these issues.
  • Most useful for people who already have an understanding of wellbeing, and who are also able to resolve problems.


  • Psychotherapy is a longer-term process of treatment that identifies thinking, feeling and behaviours patterns that have led to problems and difficulties.
  • Helps people understand psychological, behavioural, emotional and cognitive patterns that may otherwise be out of their awareness.
  • Assists people to explore, understand and learn to manage (regulate) their choices and patterns.

Whether you choose a counsellor or psychotherapist, the most important thing is that you choose the right individual for you because your connection with your therapist plays an important role in how successful the treatment is.

The difference between a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist

There are many different professions in the wellbeing and mental health sector. Each professional role helps in different ways. Understanding the main differences between these professionals and how they can offer support will help you decide which one would be right for you.


A counsellor helps clients develop understanding and insight into their behaviours/feelings, with the aim of overcoming problems and difficulties which have been identified by the client. In some cases the fact of talking to someone can be enough but sometimes a more tailored therapeutic treatment approach is necessary. The title “Counsellor” is not currently regulated by law – so you are advised to check a counsellor’s experience and training to ensure they are suitably qualified and that they belong to a recognised professional body.


Psychotherapy describes talking therapies and covers a variety of approaches and methods. Psychotherapy helps clients overcome a range of emotional, social and mental health issues through talk therapies. the title “Psychotherapist” is not currently regulated by law – so you are advised to check a psychotherapist’s experience and training to ensure they are suitably qualified and that they belong to a recognised professional body. Unlike counselling there are Psychotherapeutic approaches which are regulated/protected by industry bodies (such as registered psychotherapist) and which generally indicate a high level of training.


Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders, covering diagnosis, management and prevention. A psychiatrist must undergo full medical training as a doctor before choosing to specialise in psychiatry. Once fully trained, psychiatrists can go on to specialise in general psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, old age psychiatry, psychiatry of learning disabilities, psychotherapy or child and adolescent psychiatry. Psychotherapeutic Psychiatrists offer talking therapies but not all psychiatrists offer talking therapies.

Psychiatrists can assist in medical treatment and testing as they have the appropriate training and unlike most other metal health professionals they can prescribe psychopharmacological drugs to patients.


Psychology is the study of the human mind, how and why we think and act, how our minds work in day-to-day life and what happens when we are facing distress, for example as a mental health condition. The title of psychologist is given to anyone who has completed a degree in psychology, however there are other titles in psychology that are protected by law (such as clinical psychologist).

Psychology professionals tend to sit within one of two camps: research-oriented professionals who spend time studying the way the mind works, and, practitioners of applied psychology – they work with patients.

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Have a look at my Therapy FAQs for answers to common questions. If you need more information or would like to discuss anything in more detail please get in touch by clicking here or calling me by telephone on 0121 667 3665 or by mobile on 07588 624892.