Counseling & Psychotherapy

What’s the difference between counseling and psychotherapy?

Think about this question for moment through the metaphor of physical therapy. If you had a broken leg, the physical therapist would teaching you how to get up and down stairs on your crutches, how to securely sit, stand up, pivot, etc.  Counseling is a lot like that.  It involves strategic, creative problem solving to deal with here and now challenges and to make the client’s life smoother, safer and more productive.  An example would be learning new interpersonal skills such as drawing respectful yet clear boundaries in relationships.  Another example would be reframes in which the counselor offers you a different way of looking at the same belief or situation to help you find more possibilities when you feel stuck.

Psychotherapy is the treatment portion of the counseling experience in which the counselor guides the client through experiences and exercises that can bring insight and healing to the root causes of their life struggles.  Just like the physical therapist may do physical exercises to help strengthen muscles and increase range of motion after an injury, the counselor/psychotherapist helps the client break through limiting self-beliefs and emotional obstacles.

Many psychotherapeutic techniques/therapies such as EMDR ( & EFT ( or are quite helpful in personal healing and growth, and for making peace with the past.  It is also true that building a substantial, respectful relationship with another person is sufficient on its own for some people to gain the insight, relief and progress sought.

All meaningful counseling and psychotherapy happens within the context of the partnership and alliance between counselor and client.  The experience of building trust – of knowing and being known by another person – is the foundation of the counseling/psychotherapeutic process.  As you teach me who you are, you are also teaching yourself.  Together, we decide where we go from there.