The Student Room Group

Difference between therapy and counselling?

Is there a distinction? Which would you use for what sort of condition? Eg if you wanted to unpack and overcome things that had happened to you?
There often isn't a difference - it could come down to whether the therapist calls themself a counsellor or psychotherapist. It could also be related to their qualifications or professional registration. The key differences are with Psychologists, who study doctoral specialisms(clinical, educational, counselling, etc) and psychiatrists who have medical degrees.

The other thing to think about is the type (modality) of therapy.

CBT and REBT are quite problem-focussed and help us to find ways out of difficult and often cyclical problems. They don't tend to focus on the past.

Psychodynamic will focus on the past, childhood, past trauma, etc.

The best thing to do here is research - remember that many now offer online therapy - depends how much you want to do face to face sessions.

Look for someone whose online profile appeals to you - they will always start with a short (free) chat about what you are hoping to get from the therapy.

Trust your gut feeling - if you like them, it's worth a pop. There has been research that shows that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is more important than the modality.
Thank you, this is most helpful.
Reply 3
Original post by CultureGeek
Is there a distinction? Which would you use for what sort of condition? Eg if you wanted to unpack and overcome things that had happened to you?

When people talk about counselling, they are often referring to person-centred counselling, which is very client-led, quite unstructured and aims to help clients explore their problems in an open and non-judgmental environment. Therapy is a broad umbrella that covers many different psychotherapeutic approaches, such as CBT, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, EMDR etc. If being referred through IAPT, you will be triaged and assessed by a therapist to determine the type of therapy that would be most suitable (though your preference, if you have one, will also be considered).

For the type of thing you are talking about, person-centred counselling or psychodynamic therapy could help. Counselling tends to be free-flowing and you can choose the focus, whereas something like CBT is more focused on the here and now and reducing problematic symptoms. Psychodynamic therapy is heavily focused on past experiences, though there are far fewer psychodynamic therapists than counsellors, so it is unlikely you would be offered this through IAPT, or you'd be in for a long wait.
Reply 4
Thank you, really appreciate your response.

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