Counsellor vs Therapist: Is There a Difference?

As clinical counsellors based in Manitoba, both Karli and I offer online mental health counselling services throughout Canada. A question that I am sometimes asked is, “What is the difference between a counsellor and a therapist?” The short answer to this question is, there is no difference, but the longer answer is a little bit more complicated.

In some areas of the world, it’s possible these terms have different meanings. In Canada, though, “counsellor” and “therapist” are unregulated terms that can be used interchangeably. They are different terms that can be used in place of the umbrella term “mental health professional.” Oftentimes, one term or the other may have more meaning to a client. In those cases, a mental health professional will use the term the client is most comfortable with.

Education and Certification

Most mental health professionals in Canada have at minimum a master’s degree in Arts, Education or Counselling. Personally, I am a Certified Clinical Counsellor (CCC) with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and hold a Master’s degree in Education Counselling. Most counsellors in Canada are registered with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

The association has been around since 1965 and exists to provide leadership to and promotion of the counselling and psychotherapy professions. Other Canadian counsellors are certified through their provincial associations. In Manitoba, there isn’t currently a regulatory body for counsellors, so most are registered with the CCPA. However, The Federation of Associations of Counselling Therapists in Manitoba (FACT-Manitoba) is working towards developing the Manitoba College of Counselling Therapists as a regulatory body, so over time, you may see more counsellors registered with them.

Counselling Specializations

Unlike in other countries where the terms “counsellor” or “therapist” are determined by the services offered, in Canada the services of a mental health professional are based on such things as the counsellor’s experience, area of specialty and education. As an example, in addition to being a CCC, I have formal training in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) for adults and teens, as well as Satir Transformational Systemic Family therapy.

Both Karli and I specialize in working with people who have experienced various types of trauma and am also committed to supporting women and families in the areas of mental health, perinatal care, anxiety, depression, communication, self-esteem and body image. I also work in collaboration with other healthcare providers and believe in taking an interdisciplinary approach to health, so am prepared to work as part of your health team as needed.

Feel free to check out Grit & Growth Wellness’s Services in greater detail and then reach out to book a 15-minute consultation. Finding the right counsellor to fit your needs is not always a quick undertaking. It requires trust and a personal connection can take time to determine.

Karli and I view our roles as counsellors as a way to support you on your journey to self-healing. An initial consultation is often enough time for you to ask any questions you have about my methods and areas of expertise and for you to explain your expectations to me. From there we can move forward to book an appointment to start your healing process if you choose.

– Deandra Tousignant

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