Larry Goodman, LMFT

What Is the Difference Between Counseling and Psychotherapy?

At its simplest, counseling is about advice and psychotherapy is about change. What that means is that many clients who want and need change may seek out a counselor and hope that they will get what they want, that they will be able to change their situation.
Sadly, advice rarely creates change. You already know that because chances are you have been given advice before and have not taken it even if the source was someone you trust or someone who cares for you.
Psychotherapy, when done well, is all about awareness and options. Awareness is critical because without understanding what you are doing in your life, there is little chance for change. When you become aware of your behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors, you may be in a better position to change.
Psychotherapy is also about options. Most of us go through life believing that our options are limited to what we already know or what we were taught as children by our parents or other authority figures. Even though our existing options have not provided us with the results we want in life, we do not believe that we have any real choices.
Psychotherapy can open our eyes to those other choices and we can come to understand that those choices are within our reach. The only reason we haven’t realized this fact before is that we thought we had to believe what we were taught earlier in our lives.
Psychotherapy helps us challenge those long-held thoughts. We begin to learn that we can make our own decisions knowing what the consequences might be.
There are always consequences for every decision we make. Some of those consequences are what brings us into therapy.
I hope that this limited explanation helps you in your journey.