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#Counseling Isn’t #Psychotherapy

Counseling Isn’t Psychotherapy

Many folks, including some clinicians, use the terms counseling and therapy as if they are interchangeable. Many clinicians engage almost exclusively in the use of counseling techniques and mistakenly call what they do as psychotherapy. This is a serious pet peeve of mine. Okay, not really a pet peeve as much as something I consider outrageous and inappropriate and ultimately a dangerous misrepresentation of education/skill/technique level.

Counseling has as its goals to support and validate, to provide advice, suggestions, and resources, and to offer motivation for change. Those things are great. But they are not therapy. And we should not pay therapy prices for them.

Counseling is something we can often get from friends or family, or even from ourselves through journal writing, meditation or a long walk in the words. When in crises with a particular issue, like domestic violence, or a cancer diagnosis, a recent death of a loved one, or desired career change, we might benefit from seeking out professional counseling by a specialist, frequently in an agency setting, and at an agency price. This won’t result in alterations in how we see ourselves, the people in our lives or our world, but it can help support us through a difficult time when we need to make some quick decisions.

Some therapists offer/use some counseling techniques in sessions with clients, but for the goal of furthering the therapy work.  But when used routinely, counseling skills actually interfere with therapeutic goals.

Here are some of the tactics used by counselors, and why they don’t work so well in therapy.

What does good psychotherapy contain?


Smith is an analytically oriented psychotherapist with 25 years in practice. She is additionally the Founder/Director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which specializes in matching clients with seasoned clinicians in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

If you are interested in therapy and live in Philadelphia or the Greater Philadelphia Area, please let Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice match you with a skilled, experienced psychotherapist based on your needs and issues as well as your and own therapists' personalities and styles. All of our therapists are available for telehealth conferencing by phone or video in response to our current need for social distancing.


For posts on similar topics, follow the links below:


How Does Psychotherapy Help?

Listen to Your Unconscious (a video blog)

Up-Selling Psychotherapy: Are Therapists Even Allowed to Do That?


Full Living Founder and Director Karen L. Smith MSS, LCSW Karen L. Smith MSS LCSW Karen is the founder and director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which provides thoughtful matches for clients seeking therapists in the Philadelphia Area. She provides analytically oriented psychotherapy, and offers education for other therapists seeking to deepen and enriching their work with object relation concepts.

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