Psychotherapy and counseling are both processes in which an individual, couple or family meet in one-to-one sessions with a professional usually trained in psychology, counseling, family therapy or social work on a regular basis to resolve problems in living or in relationships. Professionals from a variety of related disciplines may also provide psychotherapy or counseling. Professionals providing psychotherapy and counseling should possess masters or doctoral degrees in their profession and should be licensed in the state in which they are practicing.
There is some confusion as to the difference between psychotherapy and counseling and many use the two terms interchangeably. By traditional definitions psychotherapy is a longer process in which the client engages in the uncovering unconscious and/or historical factors that contribute to their problems in an effort to understand and resolve them. Counseling refers to a process of guidance and advice-giving in which a professional assists a client in resolving a current problem.
Today most therapeutic processes involve different techniques and fall somewhere between simple advise-giving and deep uncovering of unconscious processes. In addition, today we have a variety of alternative treatments for personal and interpersonal problems including massage, use of herbs, acupuncture and other energy based treatments. The best choice of treatment is for an individual is based on a number of factors, including the nature of the problem to be addressed, the personality and preferences of the client, and the time available to resolve the problem.