A common question that many people may pose is, what difference is there between a Counsellor and a Psychologist?

  1. Let’s start off with what qualifications one needs to perform their role.

For one to be a warranted Counsellor in Malta, a Masters degree in Counselling is required. A Master’s in Counselling would focus on theoretical knowledge, hours of training, personal development, and practical hours through supervised placement experiences. One may be eligible for a Master’s in Counselling following completion of a first degree in an area of Human / Social Sciences such as psychology or social work for example, including several hours of experience in a psycho-social setting.

For one to be a warranted Psychologist in Malta, a Masters degree in Psychology is required. This qualification would focus on theoretical knowledge and research about human psychology, together with several practical training hours. One may be eligible for a Master’s in Psychology (Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Organisational) following the completion of a first degree in Psychology, including a number of hours of experience in the area or a related field.

Thus, the difference for these two professions starts with the focus of the training. With regards to Counselling, academic training would focus on the different therapies and skills that may be engaged with clients on a number of different mental health aspects. With regards to the Psychologist, it is more specific and focuses specifically on their area of focus. A Psychologist would also have more background in administering psychological evaluations and interpreting them in order to draw up reports for their clients. This would mean that a Counsellor is more generic in the type of client group, whereas a Psychologist is more specific.

2. Another aspect is the way treatment is provided to clients.

When it comes to Counselling, treatment is carried out through sessions where the client is able to talk about the presenting difficulties and together with the Counsellor, draws up a plan on how to become healthier and how to tap into their resources more effectively. Counselling may focus on relationship issues, processing of emotions such as anger or grief, and focusing on personal choices.

When it comes to the Psychologist, he / she is able to provide a diagnosis for certain conditions by using assessment tools and observations in order to implement various strategies and techniques to target the disorder being diagnosed. The approach is more scientific and perhaps even more medically based.

3. Some differences but also some similarities may be noticed in these roles.

As one can see, both roles are quite similar in their support to clients to function better in life and feel healthier and happier. One can say that a Psychologist is more specific in a particular area whereas a Counsellor may be more generic, even though areas of specialisation for Counsellors also exist. In addition, both professions need to have knowledge about ethics and guiding standards, being supported by a qualified supervisor and adhering to the laws of the country in which they are practising. They also work together with other professionals in order to support their clients in a more holistic manner, such as with a Social Worker or a Psychiatrist.

When it comes to choosing the right support for yourself, try to research and find some background on different professionals available to support you and see what feels like the approach with which you feel most comfrotable. Therapy depends a lot on the relationship and how you feel about it.

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.