Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Counselling vs Psychology: What’s The Difference?

In Australia, one in five people experience some form of mental illness every year. Whether it be anxiety, depression or any sort of hindering mental health issue, many Australians are affected by mental illness.

With mental health issues on the rise, there’s no wonder everybody seems interested in the topic. There’s more awareness about seeking professional help and going to therapy. However, one thing we all fail to register is the difference between two key terms — counselling and psychology. 

If you ask someone right now, they would say both these terms are the same. And, yes, this includes students who wish to pursue the field. 

This is why we have compiled this article. Let’s educate ourselves together! 

Key Differences

Counselling is a generic term that applies to most therapy sessions. It is an act that combines listening to someone, addressing their feelings, and helping them find out a solution. Most counsellors perform this by discussing a serious issue in your life. 

The level of seriousness varies from one person to another. For students, it may be about goals and career options. Meanwhile, for adults, it may be childhood traumas, relationship conflicts, and other serious matters.  

It is why counsellors are present in all settings, ranging from schools to offices. If you go to a counsellor, you’ll be able to adopt a more positive approach to life problems and find ways to resolve them.

Comparatively, psychologists would provide you with a diagnosis. It’s because psychology revolves more around the science of thinking, emotions, and behavioural patterns. 

Although therapy sessions form a major chunk of psychology, they are not as person-centric as counselling. Instead, they help assess a person’s mental condition. 

The psychologist will ask questions and conduct science-based therapy sessions to do so. It also explains why you would find psychologists in a hospital only. 

Educational Differences

Both counsellors and psychologists have different educational journeys. Here’s what to expect for each:


  • All students must complete a Master’s degree in psychology to begin practice. However, some states have special rules that require psychologists to complete a doctorate after a Master’s degree to be eligible for practice. 
  • Studies involve scientific ways to research and evaluate the patient’s mental condition. They also explore statistical methods to research and treat severe disorders. 
  • On average, a Master’s degree in psychology takes two years. But, if you plan a doctorate, be ready to spend 5 years studying! 


  • It is mandatory to complete a Master’s degree in counselling. You can also specialise in certain areas like children or abuse survivors. 
  • Unlike psychology, the study mainly focuses on providing the patient with a holistic treatment. Students learn how to help the individual open up and resolve matters. However, they may sometimes use scientific methods under licensed psychologists. 
  • Counselling programs take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. It all depends on the institute and credit requirements. Consider a diploma in counselling to get a feel for the field.

Career and Growth Differences 

According to a study, the employment of mental health professionals is likely to grow by 23 percent by 2026. The constant increase is due to rapid awareness and normalisation of therapy sessions. However, when talking about a counsellor and psychologist, there are still some differences worthy of notice. 


  • As per the US Bureau of Statistics, counsellor jobs will rise by 19 percent by 2024. 
  • The average pay for mental health counsellors ranges from $49,531 to $79,089 annually. 
  • Different states have different pay ranges. The highest paying state is New Jersey ($91,070).


  • The overall employment for psychologists will grow by 8 percent between 2020 and 2030.
  • Psychologists earn an average salary of $95,003 per year.
  • Choosing a specialised field — like industrial-organisational psychology — helps earn up to $200k.  


Summing it up, the key difference between psychology and counselling is that the former is science-driven. 

Counselling is a person-centric practice that helps resolve issues and adopt optimism. Meanwhile, psychology focuses on the science behind thinking, behaviour, and emotions.

That said, both involve therapy sessions and state-licensed professionals with Master’s degrees. However, while counselling programs take up to 3 years, psychology ones can stretch to 5 years! 

It also explains why psychologists earn more than counsellors. Their average salary is what a highly-experienced counsellor may expect to earn in New Jersey. Nonetheless, finding a job as a counsellor is easier than as a psychologist.