The process of choosing a psychologist vs counsellor for help if you are having problems may be a choice you can make yourself, or it might be an advisement from another doctor or similar professional.
Both of these professions involve the treatment and help with people who need mental health observation, advice and treatment. There are many services that overlap between the two disciplines, but there are also differences in training and the scope of the services that they perform.
Counsellors are professionals who have training at the Master’s level, although the Master’s level in this field is a longer program than that of other fields. Counselling programs that apply to clinical mental health are usually requiring a 60 semester hour minimum in length, and some are even more. There are other facets of counselling, such as career counselling and school counselling that would only require 48 semester hours, for example.
The CACREP program, or the accredited M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counselling is the standards of curriculum that is followed in this path toward professional clinical mental health counselling. This path focuses on the practical skills that individuals will need to be able to use to help them through the troubling periods of their lives.
Psychologists, on the other hand are more likely to be of assistance to people who are afflicted with more serious mental illnesses.
Additional areas where counsellors will work are with human growth and development, diversity, career development issues, and multicultural issues are some of the core concepts. There are also research portions of the counselling curriculum, but the emphasis is on being a good user of research in such a way as to inform patients in how to apply certain principles to their lives.
There is some work in the psychopathology area and some work in assessment, but there is less overall emphasis on the crunching of numbers.
In actual practice, most professional psychologists do operate at the Doctoral level, even though some specialties do require less, such occupational psychology. It is more accepted that a doctoral level of training is more useful when working with a client on a one on one basis.
The Doctoral program for psychology is very competitive, so you know if you are working with a counsellor who operates at this level, you are getting a very competent individual. The requirement for entry into a Doctoral program is only available for the very few top GPA and research backgrounds.
Psychologists do have a scope of practice that can include the treatment of more serious illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
A psychologist is more likely to be able to work with people who are more seriously affected with a mental illness. Their training does allow them to be involved with a wider range of clients, but the general therapy services will more often go to counsellors and other Master’s level professionals, simply because these folks are more cost effective.
Psychologists who choose to be in private practice may choose to focus on counselling, or would they defer the lesser functions. A lot depends on a person’s view of what he or she is trying to do, and their associations. Some psychologists do choose to become licensed as counsellors on the professional.
So the choice of choosing a psychologist vs Counsellor for help gets narrowed down to levels of needs for the client, and what the services that will be gleaned from either the counsellor or the psychologist.
Psychologists are usually more involved in research, or they can be if they choose, because their stamp of approval on the results, tend to carry more weight. Some will pursue the PhD simply for that reason, but these folks are in the minority.
Both groups are growing well, both actually showing strong growth, but the counselling side is growing faster between the two. Jobs in the mental health field are slated to grow 36% for counsellors between 2010 and 2020.
The process of choosing a psychologist vs counsellor for help will depend on the seriousness of your concern and the expertise of the person who is recommending you. If you are just having some difficulty working out some life situations, the counsellor is probably where you need to land. However, if you are in need of more mental health care, the psychologist will be the best path to travel.