General Question

workaholic's avatar

How do you choose between a counsellor and psychologist?

Asked by workaholic (155 points ) January 12th, 2013

I need some help regarding stress management, but I don’t know who to talk to. Which one is better?

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

A psychologist has the pedigree, the training and the certification. A counsellor can be anyonewho wants to call him/herself a counsellor.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Depends on which one you trust more. If you don’t trust them, it doesn’t matter if they have more education than one you do trust.

Counsellors usually do have less training. If you are looking for medications then you probably want to see a psychiatrist.

Pachy's avatar

I’d start with a counselor who specializes in stress management. Too early to think about medication or a long-term commitment to therapy. Stress management is an extremely common problem these days and can be dealt with in all sorts of non-medicinal ways.

wundayatta's avatar

Psychologist, therapist, social worker, counselor, and a dozen other names—they all do most of the same things. They have slightly different training in some ways, and when it comes to specifics, such as whether they are doing family therapy or addiction therapy or psychotherapy or analysis or any of hundreds of different kinds of therapies, they can be quite different.

What you need to do is interview them and ask them what their training is, what style of therapy they use, and what their philosophy is for working with clients. You probably want to limit yourself to therapists who work with stress management. But it doesn’t even have to be therapists. There are coaches and religious officials and Buddhists who provide good stress management training.

My doctor left doctoring to become a leader of a stress management clinic whose major technique is mindfulness. These days, mindfulness is probably a favorite coping technique.

You could also ask for advice here. We’ve given the same advice a hundred times over about stress management. Mindfulness. Exercise. Eating regularly. Getting proper sleep. Lots of other things people recommend. These are the same things you’ll find with a class or a therapist. You could also buy a book about it.

The best thing about a therapist is you have a live person to talk to about it. But you may want a class as well because that provides more interactive support, and you relate to classmates as well as a therapist. And they say support groups are more effective than individual therapists.

But in the end, it’s on you to find a therapist or class or situation that works for your learning style. You know yourself best, so you have to decide what you need. You can only decide after educating yourself about the options out there. Good luck.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

If you need to be treated with medication, you’ll have to consult with a Psychiatrist (an M.D. with a residency in psychiatry).

If talk therapy is a better fit, you can see a Psychologist (a state-licensed professional with a Doctorate plus clinical practice) or a Licensed Clincial Social Worker/LCSW (a state-licensed professional with a Masters Degree and work experience).

A counselor? Who knows. Depending on the state requirements, this can be anyone who—licensed or unlicensed—calls himself/herself a therapist.

Personally, I would avoid anyone claiming to be a “counselor” or “therapist” without additional credentials. In the absence of mandatory state qualifications, any untrained, unqualified person might use those descriptions. Do you really want to pay money, and turn yourself over, to someone who has simply declared him/herself to be skilled in mental health care? Would you let somebody with no medical training remove your appendix or treat cancer?

livelaughlove21's avatar

You want drugs? See a psychiatrist. You want to talk? See a psychologist. Can’t afford it? See a counselor.

And please, never see a psychiatrist if you want him/her to counsel you. They’re nothing but glorified pharmacists and generally don’t give a damn about your problems.

If you choose to see a psychologist that will try to help you alleviate stress, I recommend a cognitive behavioral psychologist if you can find one. You can call the office and ask what their approach is.

Adagio's avatar

I’ve seen both, my very best experiences were with a counsellor but I think it depends completely upon the person you are seeing, not their formal (or not) qualification, some people are just naturally better in the field and of course different people want different things from their counsellor/psychologist.

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Ron_C's avatar

Personally, I go to a trained sociologist. She has been a great help and acts as a buffer between my psychiatrist. I am very leery of psychiatrists but my social worker has proved herself to be trust worthy and understanding.

gailcalled's avatar

I found a man who was both a psychiatrist and a trained psychotherapist. When I started to see him, I didn’t even think about the issue of meds, evem though I did end up on a mild ant-depressant for several years.

I got the recommendation from my PCP; my three conditions were (glib, I know):

1) He or she be about my age
2) He or she be Jewish, if possible
3) He or she be smarter than me.

He came with that pedigree and after the first five minutes, it was clear that we were a good match and continued to be for six years.

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