What is the difference between therapy and counseling?

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Counseling is usually focused on a specific issue for a limited amount of time while therapy helps you understand yourself and your patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviors. 

Therapy and counseling are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between them.

Counseling involves working with a mental health counselor or clinical mental health counselor on a specific issue for a limited amount of time. For example, counseling can help you if you’re having problems with your marriage. You can see a marriage counselor to learn how to improve things between you and your spouse. Or counseling can help you if you have difficulty managing stress and want guidance on tools you can use when you are stressed out. Usually, counseling focuses on a specific issue for a limited amount of time. 

Therapy can be more long-term and focuses on you as an individual — how you see yourself and the world, your thoughts, and your behaviors, as well as the underlying patterns of why you do the things you do. For example, if you were suffering from depression, you and your mental health therapist can explore how depression impacts your everyday life and how to develop better coping strategies so that you can feel better. You usually go to therapy sessions on a more long-term basis.

Therapy can include counseling on specific issues that arise during your conversations with your therapist. On the other hand, if a counselor sees underlying patterns and concerns that affect the issues at hand, they may recommend that you start therapy. Many clinicians may be trained in both therapy and counseling. 

Mental Health Match can connect you to both counselors and therapists who are specialized to help you with your specific concerns or mental health problems.

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