March 6, 2024
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Therapies

CBT vs Counseling: What is the Difference?

CBT vs Counseling
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The number of people experiencing mental health problems is on the rise. Financial difficulties, breakups, divorces, and whatnot.
As mental health issues continue to grow, so does the need for psychological therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and counseling.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, or perhaps you’re interested in pursuing a career in CBT or counseling.
To make informed decisions about treatment or career choices, it’s crucial to understand the difference between CBT and counseling. So, let’s delve deeper into this article and find out what these services are.

What is Counseling?

A skilled counselor will have in-depth discussions with patients during co-unseling to assess their mental health. Patients discuss their concerns, opinions, and experiences throughout these sessions while getting support in controlling their challenging emotions.

What is the Training for Counseling?

Counselors receive training to develop their listening, empathy, non-judgmental attitude, patience, and calmness skills. Through a diploma or degree program, professional counselor education normally lasts three to five years.

Qualification often requires a minimum amount of client hours obtained during a work placement. The training begins with an overview of counseling, followed by a one-year certificate in counseling skills and a two-year diploma in counseling. Alternatively, some individuals pursue training through university counseling programs.

What is the training for counseling?

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly structured psychological therapy that focuses on changing automatic negative thoughts affecting a person’s mental health. It identifies toxic thoughts that negatively influence patients’ lives and aims to replace them with positive and productive thoughts.

What is the Training for CBT?

To train in CBT, individuals should have a background in health or social care and a degree or equivalent level of academic achievement. The BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies) recommends that those training in CBT have an understanding of research, theories of human development, human problems and distress, and the social context.

Certain mental health backgrounds, known as “Core Professions,” are recognized by the BABCP and include art therapists, counseling, medicine, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, registered nursing, social work, and various psychology disciplines.

What is CBT?

What is the Difference Between CBT and Counseling?

The main difference between CBT and counseling lies in their approach. CBT focuses on the patient’s current situation and aims to change thought patterns or habits, enabling patients to recognize and investigate how their thoughts influence their actions.

On the other hand, counseling delves into patients’ past experiences, requiring them to explore their emotions deeply to determine the root cause of their problems. The counselor’s role is to provide a secure environment for patients to talk about and understand their complex feelings.

Here Are Six Key Differences Between CBT And Counseling

Definition: CBT aims to change negative and harmful thought patterns and behaviors, gradually helping patients manage their mental health issues. Counseling involves listening to patients empathetically, finding the reasons behind their mental health problems, and working on them.
Target: CBT focuses on changing patients’ thinking patterns, while counseling works by listening to patients with empathy and encouragement.
Time: CBT is brief and time-constrained, while counseling can take months or even years to achieve the desired results.
Focus: CBT emphasizes present problems, whereas counseling focuses on patients’ previous life experiences.
Structure: CBT is highly structured, while counselors typically go with the flow of the conversation.
Purpose: The primary purpose of CBT is to change how patients behave or think, while the primary purpose of counseling is to provide guidance and advice.


Can a Counselor Use CBT?

Some counselors may incorporate CBT into their therapy sessions. They might use CBT to expedite the counseling process, as both approaches address similar types of mental health disorders.

Also, counselors may use CBT to help patients develop self-esteem or more rational mental strategies. However, CBT may not be suitable for individuals with learning difficulties or complex mental health needs.

What is the difference between Counseling and CBT?


CBT and counseling are both talking therapies with distinct differences. CBT focuses on making changes by identifying, challenging, and replacing negative thoughts with more objective and realistic ideas.
Counseling, on the other hand, delves into patients’ past experiences to understand and resolve their complex feelings. While CBT may show benefits faster, counseling is a lengthier process that requires patience. Ultimately, the choice between CBT and counseling depends on individual preferences and needs.

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