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  • Writer's pictureHeather Steele

The Differences Between Counseling and Psychiatry



Mental health counseling and psychiatry are both forms of treatment for individuals experiencing mental health concerns, but they differ in several key ways.


What is unique to counseling?

Mental health counseling, also known as talk therapy or psychotherapy, typically involves regular meetings between a client and a licensed therapist. The therapist will work with the client to identify and address the issues that are causing them distress. Wether that is stress, grief, anxiety, or an addiction. And will help them develop coping strategies and skills to improve their overall mental health. Some of the most common forms of counseling include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is often used to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder.


What is unique to psychiatry?

Psychiatry, on the other hand, is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed additional training in the field of psychiatry, and they can prescribe medication as well as provide therapy. In addition to talk therapy, psychiatrists may also use a variety of other treatment options, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is used to treat severe depression and other mental health conditions.


While both mental health counseling and psychiatry can be effective for treating mental health concerns, the approach used will depend on the individual and their specific needs. For some individuals, talk therapy alone may be enough to help them manage their symptoms. For others, medication may be necessary in addition to therapy. In some cases, an individual may begin with counseling and later be referred to a psychiatrist if medication is deemed necessary.


What is the difference between psychiatry and counseling?

One of the key differences between counseling and psychiatry is the length of treatment. Mental health counseling may involve several months or even years of regular therapy sessions, while medication prescribed by a psychiatrist may be a shorter-term solution or in combination with the therapy.


Another difference is that counseling is focused on the current issue and try to help the client to understand and work through it, while psychiatry is focused on identifying and treating underlying mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.


It's also worth noting that the types of insurance and reimbursement for the services are different, psychiatry is considered medical and covered by medical insurance, while counseling is considered behavioral health and covered by behavioral health insurance.


In general, both mental health counseling and psychiatry can be effective in treating mental health concerns. It's important for individuals to work with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for them, based on their specific needs and preferences.


How to choose what's right for you?

In summary, mental health counseling and psychiatry are both important for treating mental health concerns, but they are different types of treatment. Mental health counseling is a form of talk therapy that focuses on addressing the issues causing distress. Psychiatry is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, and psychiatrists may prescribe medication as well as provide therapy. Both counseling and psychiatry can be effective, but the approach used will depend on the individual and their specific needs.


Not sure what type of treatment is right for you or a loved one? Reach out to our staff at Morrisville Counseling and Consulting and get the information you need.


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