119. What is the Difference between Psychotherapy and Counseling?

Psychotherapy is defined by its two root words: psycho meaning breath/spirit/soul and therapy meaning healing. Thus, psychotherapy is the healing of the soul and/or spirit. My brother Bill, a clinical psychologist, practices deep healing psychotherapy.

Counseling deals with the symptoms of daily living problems and behavior modification. There is marriage counseling, pastoral counseling, counseling for emotional disturbances, counseling for depression, and so forth. The goal of such counseling is to solve problems, help a person think differently, and guide a person to behave differently. “You have an abnormal fear of crowds; here’s how we will diminish that fear.”

Psychotherapy, on the other hand deals with

the deep seated issues behind the faulty thinking of behavior, the causes behind the symptoms. “You have an abnormal fear of crowds; let’s find out where that fear came from and bring healing at that point.”

Secular psychotherapy seeks healing of the mind, will, and emotions (soul) of an individual. Deep healing psychotherapy seeks healing of the soul and the spirit.

Notice I’m speaking of processes, not professionals. A counselor may practice psychotherapy, whereas a psychotherapist may practice counseling. Today the words are used loosely. A professional may call himself/herself a psychotherapist while really practicing counseling; and a professional may call himself/herself a counselor while really practicing psychotherapy. If you are seeking a psychotherapist, go by the process being used, not the title.

One more distinction – counseling is a matter of change; psychotherapy is a matter of transformation. A beautiful illustration of transformation for a person depressed is a butterfly (the word for butterfly in Greek is the same as for soul, viz., psyche). A rather ugly caterpillar goes into a cocoon and from there is transformed into a beautiful flying creature. A person depressed goes into a time of seeking deep healing and is transformed into a person who has triumphed over depression.

About Patrick Day

In 2010, I escaped from four long years of deep, dark depression. This blog shares lessons I learned from those years as depicted in my autobiography - How I Escaped from Depression - as well as other insights about depression and anxiety that only come from someone who has gone through it. When you have a heart attack, you become an expert in heart attacks. When you have diabetes, you become an expert in that condition. As such, I am an expert in depression, with a four-year experiential degree and graduate studies in how to live a life going forward that keeps the ever-lurking Depression at a healthy distance.
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