Is there a difference between counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists?

Counsellors and psychotherapists don’t necessarily have a degree in Psychology whereas psychologists do. Counsellors are trained to assist their clients with every day difficulties and stresses and to help them find solutions to their present difficulties. There are huge variations in the training of counsellors in this country and many say that there isn’t nearly enough regulation. At present that is being examined and tougher regulations is on its way.


Counsellors can be very skilled and well trained, and will draw on different techniques and learning and perhaps help the client see what patterns of thinking and behaviors have brought the client to where they are. They will not advise, but will listen well and non-judgmentally and help the client to feel safe and empowered enough to make safe and wise choices for themselves. With very few exceptions all matters discussed in therapy with a counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist are, and remain, completely confidential.

In many ways then the role, and skills, of the counsellor and psychotherapist can overlap. In this way you will find many psychotherapists refer to themselves as counsellors. I do this myself sometimes. Less often the other way around, and this is because, in general terms, the work of a therapist is ‘deeper’ and often more long term. And, generally speaking, the training to become a counsellor would not be sufficient to become licensed as a psychotherapist.

Here is a recent paper written by the ICP outlining the basic differences between counselling and psychotherapy. It’s wordy but thorough!

A psychologist then will be bringing their academic studies to add to the client work. As a Counselling Psychologist my approach to counselling and therapy involves the integration of psychological theory and research, and my experience and training as a therapist.

There are other kinds of psychologists – clinical, educational, forensic and organizational to name just a few! These have specific areas of specialization and will work with assessments, particular psychological disorders and within HR sections of companies for example.

This site has a clear section which explains the different types of psychologist if you’re interested.