Counsellor or psychologist – what’s the difference? Counsellors and psychologists are both licensed health professionals with specialised training in helping people navigate life’s difficulties. There is a considerable overlap in the services and approaches each provides.
Counsellors tend to focus on those who are generally well but have specific issues in their lives that may be causing them distress, such as mild to moderate anxiety or depression, relationship difficulties, problems at work or conflict within the family, grief and loss, chronic pain or stress.
Clients who see a counsellor may be struggling with life changes, need guidance and clarity to make a significant decision, want support to improve their lives and achieve their goals, or learn to better manage and regulate their emotions. People often see a counsellor because they feel stuck or unhappy in some way or because they are dealing with specific problematic emotions.
Counselling is typically a short term process (4-6 sessions) and provides you with a safe space to explore, make sense of and process difficult situations. When you see a counsellor, they will help you identify your goals, clarify issues, explore options and develop strategies to make positive changes in your life. No referral is required to see a counsellor, you can simply book yourself in and get started on resolving your difficulties.
In contrast, psychologists have expertise in diagnosing and treating more significant and long term mental health issues such as personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, schizophrenia, bi-polar, obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe depression requiring hospitalisation etc. When you see a psychologist, they will focus on assessment and specialised treatment to overcome or manage the implications of mental illness. Seeing a psychologist usually requires a referral from a GP.
We have a counsellor available at Lotus; if you do feel that you need a psychologist, please speak to your GP.