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Please note that the US and English spellings of counselling/counseling need to coexist so no need to correct them. Counseling in the US and counselling in the UK. The word counseling or counselling comes from the Middle English counseil, from Old French conseil, from Latin cōnsilium; akin to cōnsulere, to take counsel, consult.

There are probably as many defintions of counseling as there are practitioners to describe it. The term was originally used by Frank Parsons in 1908. It was adopted by Carl Rogers in response to widespread prejudice in the USA against lay therapists and also because he was not then permitted by the psychiatry profession to call practitioners a 'psychotherapist'.

Difference between counseling and psychotherapy

Counselling tends to focus less on psychopathology than psychotherapy, which tends to deal more with seriously disturbed individuals e.g., those with schizophrenia or personality disorders. This distinction is not hard and fast, however, as in both common and professional usage the terms are interchangeable. This leads to confusion for both customers and practitioners in a complex, service industry. The differences are usually to do with the type of training, accreditation and special interests of the each counsellor or psychotherapist.

Generally, counselling tends to arise from a humanistic and client centered approach, Counsellors attend to both normal social, cultural and developmental issues as well as the problems associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders. These are nonpathologizing views of the person in context. A vital ingredient is their view that counselling is a meeting between therapist and client which invites the creative possibilities of dialogue in contrast to treatment of a disorder.

Both psychotherapy and counselling encourage self help as a resource for change, but to different degrees. For example, will a person believed to be suffering a mental disorder think about self-help in a disordered way - using aluminium foil wrapping of the skull to prevent their thoughts being broadcast to the television. This could be considered disordered self-help. By contrast, in an approach that does not pathologise the person, the counselor is unlikely to pathologize their self help strategies and even do research in the science for experience to find an explanation for the effect of a skullcap of aluminium foil on the brain.


For context to the history of counseling see Timeline of psychology and Timeline of psychotherapy. Each of the articles in See Also below contain histories which relate to that of counseling. For a brief history see the external sites below.

Models of counselling

Main article: Models of counseling

Types of counseling

There are a large number of counselling modes reflecting different philisophical and theortical roots and the demands of particular client groups.

Main article: Types of counseling




Types of consellor

Counsellors can undergo specialization in the various types of counseling.

Main article: Counselors

Modes of counseling

Main article: Modes of counseling

What does a counselor usually do

  • Listen effectively to what you are saying
  • Interrupt you when it is useful and appropriate
  • Facilitate your untangling of thoughts, feelings and worries about a situation
  • Offer you their insights into how you act, think and feel
  • Teach, show and help you express your emotions in your own way
  • Teach, show and help you work out your own solutions to problems
  • Teach, show and help you accept what cannot be changed
  • Teach, show, help and support you and your relationship while you do all this

Professional counselling organizations

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts



Additional material


  • Feltham, C. & Dryden, W. (1993). Dictionary of Counselling / London:Whurr.


External links

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