Looking at the Difference Between Therapists and Mental Health Counsellors

Mental Health

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When it comes to seeking out mental health professionals, there are two primary titles you may see popping up: mental health counsellors and therapists.

While there are many overlaps between these job titles, there are a few key differences between them one should know to select the most accurate health professional for their needs.

Below is a closer look at these three mental health professions, including what makes them similar and what makes them different.

What Is a Mental Health Counsellor?

Counsellors are a broadly used term in the world of mental health, often referring to fields such as psychology, social work, and more.

When a person seeks out mental health counselling in Vancouver, the counsellor will be able to help a patient with many different issues. For example, counsellors can evaluate a patient, providing ample resources and education tools for patient betterment and making suggestions to their patients that can help them understand their emotions, problems, and what may need to be done to resolve them.

Many types of mental health counsellors will specialize in specific types of issues, including any of the following:

  • Addictions to drugs or alcohol
  • Survivors of abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, or mental abuse
  • Relationship and marriage counselling
  • Family counselling
  • Grief
  • LGBTQ+ specific issues

What Is a Therapist?

A therapist, by definition, is somebody who has been trained to help give professional care to their patients and help with their recovery. When it comes to the world of mental health, therapists and mental health counsellors share many overlaps.

Like mental health counsellors, many types of therapists will specialize in a particular issue, like substance issues or couple’s therapy.

While therapists and mental health counsellors are often referred to interchangeably, the key difference between the two are the approaches they may take to help their patients.

For example, suppose a patient is suffering from anxiety issues. In that case, a counsellor may give the patient different tips they can use to help work through their panic attacks, helping them to reduce their frequency and severity during flare-ups.

Meanwhile, a therapist will often go more in-depth than simple coping tactics, working with a patient over time to explore why a patient may be feeling anxious in the first place, such as exploring a patient’s history, relationships, traumas, and any other triggers that may be affecting them.

Another example may be a counsellor helping to treat a substance abuse problem may help a patient find alternative means when withdrawal symptoms begin to set in and refer to how a patient may better themselves without the use of substances. A therapist, however, will look at why drugs or alcohol is their go-to coping mechanism, looking into the feelings they provide them in hopes of discovering what a patient may be missing or attempting to mask with substance abuse.

Due to the difference in their natures, mental health counselling is often sought out as a short-term solution to those in immediate need of help before moving on to a therapist who will be able to help a patient on a far more in-depth level over a longer period that can span anywhere from months, and years.