Counselling and Psychotherapy are often considered to be interchangeable therapies that overlap in a number of ways.

Counselling usually refers to a brief treatment that centres on behaviour patterns and will enable you to explore personal development and to create adjustments to your life.

Psychotherapy focuses on working with clients for a longer-term and draws from insight into emotional problems and difficulties through a deeper awareness of emotional issues, and looking at the foundation of the problem. Psychotherapy will allow you to examine feelings, actions and thoughts and to learn how to evaluate and adjust where appropriate.

Key Differences


  • Helps people to identify problems and crises and encourages them to take positive steps to resolve these issues.
  • Is the best course of therapeutic treatment for anyone who already has an understanding of wellbeing, and who is also able to resolve problems.
  • Is a short-term process that encourages the change of behaviour.


  • Helps people with psychological problems that have built up over the course of a long period of time.
  • Will help you understand your feelings, thoughts and actions more clearly.
  • Is a longer-term process of treatment that identifies emotional issues and the background to problems and difficulties.

Who's who?

A psychotherapist is a trained individual who is able to offer a form of counselling to clients. Someone with the same qualifications however, may decide to be called a counsellor instead. Generally a practitioner offering short-term treatment is known as a counsellor. An individual with two or more years of training will opt to be known as a psychotherapist.

Useful links

The Counsellors Guide website