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If you’ve ever thought you might need help with your mental health, or just need a safe space to talk through issues you may be having, you would probably have considered seeing a counsellor or psychologist.

But, which one do you choose and what is the difference between a counsellor and a psychologist?

Here’s what you need to know.

Study

Counsellors should complete a formal qualification, usually a bachelor’s degree in counselling or psychological science, to become a registered and fully qualified counsellor. Any specialisation requires further study like a Graduate Diploma or Masters.

To become a psychologist, an undergraduate degree in psychology or psychological science is required and then a postgraduate diploma or honors year must be completed.

 After this, there are 3 ways to become a qualified psychologist; spend two years of supervision as a provisionally registered psychologist; OR a fifth year of study followed by one year of supervision; OR an accredited Masters or Doctorate in a specialised study area.

Accreditation

Anyone can become a counsellor whether they take a short online course or formal training as it is not formally regulated. However in Australia, there are a few national voluntary registries of counsellors who meet minimum training and ethical standards.

To use the title ‘Psychologist’, you must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia which occurs after approximately 6 years of education and training.

Methods

Counsellors use talk-based therapy to help clients overcome certain emotional and behavioural patterns that occur in daily life.  

Psychologists use scientific methods to study the factors that influence how we think, feel and behave, and use different types of psychological treatments to help patients explore and challenge their thought processes and behaviours.

Time

Generally depending on the issues to be discussed, and the therapeutic interventions, the time spent in therapy is dependant on the treatment plan. 

The treatment plan is discussed between the psychologist and the client and can be renegotiated depending on the clients presenting symptoms. 

Psychology can be a long-term process which involves a lot of face to face time with clients to observe and interact with them to eventually uncover the foundations of the issues they are having and find the best way to move forward with treating these issues. 

Attending therapy does not need to be when you are in a crisis, some people attending psychological counselling to process issues what they are working through. 

If you need to speak to someone, whether it be a counsellor or psychologist, it may be best to visit your GP first to discuss your issues and find the practitioner most beneficial for you.

At Harnessing Wellness, we offer psychology services for the Yarra Ranges and beyond. If you need help with your mental health or have suffered a trauma, please contact us.