What’s the Difference Between Counseling and Clinical Psychology?


Martha Robinson

When it comes to seeking help for mental health issues, there are different professionals that you can consult. Two of these professionals are counselors and clinical psychologists.

While their work may seem similar at first glance, they have different roles and approaches in addressing mental health concerns. In this article, we will explore the differences between counseling and clinical psychology.


Counseling is a form of therapy that focuses on specific issues that the person seeks help for. These issues can range from relationship problems, stress management, grief and loss, to career development. Counselors work with individuals, couples, families or groups to address these issues by helping them gain a better understanding of their feelings and behavior.

Types of Counseling

There are different types of counseling such as:

  • Career Counseling: This type of counseling helps people explore their interests and strengths to make informed career choices.
  • Marriage and Family Counseling: This type of counseling helps couples and families improve communication, resolve conflicts and build healthy relationships.
  • Addiction Counseling: This type of counseling helps people overcome addictions such as drugs or alcohol by addressing the underlying causes.
  • Mental Health Counseling: This type of counseling is focused on helping people manage symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Clinical psychologists assess a person’s mental health through interviews, observation and psychological tests. They use evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or psychodynamic therapy to treat mental health disorders.

Duties of Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists have a range of duties that include:

  • Diagnosing Mental Health Disorders: Clinical psychologists diagnose mental health disorders by assessing symptoms and conducting psychological tests.
  • Treating Mental Health Disorders: Clinical psychologists use evidence-based treatments to help people manage and overcome mental health disorders.
  • Conducting Research: Clinical psychologists conduct research to improve understanding of mental health disorders and develop new treatment approaches.
  • Teaching: Some clinical psychologists work in academic settings where they teach and train future therapists and researchers.


The main difference between counseling and clinical psychology is the type of mental health issues they address. Counseling is focused on specific issues such as stress management or relationship problems, while clinical psychology is focused on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.

Another difference is their training. Counselors typically have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, while clinical psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology. Clinical psychologists also undergo supervised clinical training to gain experience in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.


In summary, counseling and clinical psychology are both important fields that help people improve their mental well-being. While they share some similarities, they differ in the types of issues they address and their training requirements.

If you are seeking help for a specific issue, such as career development or stress management, consulting with a counselor may be helpful. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, consulting with a clinical psychologist may be beneficial in getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.