The Difference Between Mental Health Counselors and Counseling Psychologists

Mental health counselors and counseling psychologists are two distinct professions that share a common goal: to help individuals, families, and groups improve their mental health. While both professions focus on understanding human behavior and promoting positive change, there are some key differences between them. Counseling programs typically treat mental health disorders from a strengths and developmental approach, while counseling psychology programs emphasize the medical model. Counselors often provide advice and guidance, while therapists often perform psychotherapy.

Therapy tends to take place over a longer period of time and focuses on more complex issues, while counseling is usually shorter-term and addresses a more focused topic. Psychologists have a doctorate in psychology, which gives them the option of participating in almost any type of mental health treatment. Clinical mental health counselors have master's degrees in mental health counseling or a related specialty. While a master's degree in psychology emphasizes evaluation and adapts treatment to specific mental disorders, a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling focuses on holistic treatment.

Mental health counselors often work from a theoretical framework, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to conceptualize human behavior and employ effective interventions to plan successful treatment plans. Psychologists are also trained to provide therapy, but they have much more space to set their own day-to-day agenda. Before committing to a specific educational level, anyone interested in becoming a mental health professional should review some of the most common professional outcomes. It only makes sense to encompass mental health and therapy as problems that are best addressed in the context of relationships and social support systems.

Jeanette Kunzler
Jeanette Kunzler

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