Differences between counseling and psychotherapy Essay
Counseling Theories August 3, 1999
Running head: Coun. v. Psychotherapy
Counseling v. psychotherapy is there a difference between the two? This
paper will attempt to prove that there are several differences between
counseling and psychotherapy. While counseling and psychotherapy have
several different elements in each, the following information will also attempt
to show the reader that there are some areas where the two overlap.
this was a confusing topic to research. A fine line distinguishes the two topics
and one must look hard to see this line. Definition of Counseling
One survey taken by Gustad suggests a definition of counseling where he
Counseling is a learning-oriented process, carried on in a
simple, one to one social environment, in which a counselor,
professionally competent in relevant psychological skills and
knowledge, seeks to assist the client by methods appropriate
to the latter’s needs and within the context of the total
personnel program, to learn more about himself, to learn
how to put such understanding into effect in relation to
more clearly perceived, realistically defined goals to the
‘ end that the client may become a happier and more
productive member of his society (1957, p. 36).
In lay terms counseling can be described as a face to face relationship,
having goals to help a client to learn or acquire new skills which will enable
them to cope and adjust to life situations. The focus is to help a person reach
maximum fulfillment or potential, and to become fully functioning as a
Definition of Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is the process inwhich a therapists assists the client in
re-organizing his or her personality. The therapist also helps the client
insights into everyday behavior. Psychotherapy can be defined as “more
inclusive re-education of the individual” (Brammer& Shostrom,1977).
The objectives of counseling according to the Committee on Definition,
Division of Counseling Psychology, American Psychological Association are to
“help individuals toward overcoming obstacles to their personal growth,
wherever these may be encountered, and toward achieving optimum
development of their personal resources” (Arbuckle, 1967).
In a paper written by Dr. T.
Millard, it is stated that “Counseling
provides clarity and a positive and constructive venue for the individual to
sensibly examine the instinctive-emotional and rational (or irrational) motives
which determine the drive, content, and even the form of human conduct.”
This shows the part which counseling plays in a clients treatment.
According to Everett Shostrom (1967) , the goal of psychotherapy is ”
to become an actualizer, a person who appreciates himself and others as
persons rather than things and who has turned his self defeating
manipulations into self fulfilling potentials (p. 9). Shostrom also feels that
awareness is the goal of psychotherapy, “The reason is that change occurs with
awareness!” (1967 p. 103).
Shostrom feels that awareness is a form of non-striving
achieved by being what you are at the moment,l even if what you are means the phony
manipulative role that we all play sometimes for external support (1967 p. 103).
Not all therapists feel that there is a distinction between counseling and
psychotherapy. C.H. Patterson feels that it is impossible to make a
distinction, He feels that the definition of counseling equally applies as well to
psychotherapy and vice a versa.
Donald Arbuckle (1967) argues that counseling and
psychotherapy are identical in all essential aspects.
Others believe that there is a distinction. Psychotherapy is concerned
with some type of personality change where counseling is concerned with
helping individuals utilize full coping potential. IN Donald Arbuckle’s work he
included Leona Tyler’s thoughts on the differences between counseling and
psychotherapy. Leona Tyler attempts to differ between counseling and
psychotherapy by stating, “to remove physical and mental handicaps or to rid
of limitations is not the job of the counselor, this is the job of the therapist
which is aimed essentially at change rather than fulfillment (Arbuckle 1967).
Differences between counseling and psychotherapy
One of the major distinctions between counseling and psychotherapy is the
In counseling, the counselor will focus on the “here and now”, reality
situations. During psychotherapy, the therapist is looking into the
unconscious or past. A psychotherapist is looking for a connection of past to
undealt with problems which are now present in the real world. Donald
Arbuckle states, “There is a further distinction to be made. This involves the
nature or content of the problem which the client brings to the counselor. A
distinction is attempted between reality-oriented problems and those problems
which inhere in the personality of the individual” (1967, p.
Counseling and psychotherapy also differentiate when it comes to the level