03 July 2022

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?


You may wonder about difference between counselling and psychotherapy. Although counselling and psychotherapy are sometimes used interchangeably and they both fall under the umbrella of 'talking therapies', there are also some differences.

Counselling usually focusses on an issue or a stressor (i.e. bereavement, divorce), that is current and is considered more short-term than psychotherapy. Although this is not always the case. In counselling, you may be exploring your options and the steps you can take to bring immediate change or alleviate your stress. You may also re-evaluate your assumptions and their impacts on the present.

On the other hand, psychotherapy deals with deeper issues, long-term changes, and often involves looking at complex facets of personality and recognising patterns (relational, behavioural, historical etc.). Psychotherapy is concerned with deeper understanding of the self and relationships (trauma, attachment issues etc.)

There are a number of professional organisations in the UK that voluntarily take the role of regulating psychotherapy and counselling. The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and The British Association For Counselling And Psychotherapy (BACP) are the two main professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy training is 2-3 years longer than counselling training. Most therapists in the UK also take additional training and CPD (Continued Professional Development).