Counselor Vs. Councilor: What Is The Difference?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated July 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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In the English language, there are many homonyms, or words that sound the same but have two different meanings. Councilor and counselor are two such words. Writing about counselling services can be tricky due to the confusion surrounding these homonyms. In this article, we’re going to elucidate the differences between the words counselor and councilor, discuss the services such professionals provide, and give you advice on seeking mental health care.

Wondering if there is more than one type of counselor?

Councilor vs. counselors: Both counseling?

Councilor is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as a “part of a council,” or one who serves as part of an organization, often in a public capacity. Counselor, on the other hand, has several definitions. There is the legal counselor for when you might require legal advice, and then there is the therapist or counselor that you might seek for psychological counseling or any other problems related to your life and mental well-being.

People often get confused between councilor vs counselor, but only a counselor or counsellor, depending on the preferred spelling in American English or British English respectively, provides professional counseling or therapy, including online counseling, in the mental health field. The term counselor can refer to a mental health counselor, financial counselor, career counselor, or other professional. Counselors may provide varying types of counseling within these specialties, including individual counseling, family therapy, and couples counseling. Licensed counselors are trained to address a broad range of personal issues, such as mental health issues or relationship challenges.


Both of these spellings of counselor, with one or two Ls depending on the preferred spelling in different countries, counselor is typically used in American English, while counsellor is typically used in British English), refer to a person who gives counsel— someone who provides advice, support, or therapy. Counselors work in a broad range of settings and may specialize in areas like mental health counseling (or mental health counselling, in British English) or serve as a marriage counselor or financial counselor. The word counselor (or counsellor)can also refer to guidance counselors, school psychologists, or even summer camp counselors. Additionally, it may refer to school counselors, frequently seen in academic settings, supporting students through various challenges related to relationships, mental health, or career planning.


These two words refer to the same thing but have different spellings, called homophones. Councillor is an alternative spelling that is preferred in most other countries outside the U.S. It refers to someone from a professional organization, such as a city official or a constituent of a city council. This individual typically belongs to some type of governing body responsible for creating rules and laws within their jurisdiction.

An attorney or lawyer is also a councilor, but with a much different role than someone who is part of a city council or a similar entity. Attorneys and lawyers are trained professionals who provide legal advice, representation in court, and other legal services as needed. They may advise clients on matters ranging from civil law to criminal law. Some examples of tasks a lawyer or attorney may help with include drafting contracts, negotiating deals, and representing their clients (such as criminal drug mules) in court.

Difference between a therapist and a counselor

A professional therapist is someone who is licensed to practice psychotherapy and behavioral psychology techniques with individuals, couples, and families. Professionals who provide therapy typically hold a master's degree in counseling, marriage and family therapy, or social work.

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The terms therapist and counselor are sometimes used interchangeably, but the licensing may be different. For example, there are numerous kinds of therapists, such as occupational therapists, substance use counselor, physical therapists, and speech therapists, who all have different training and credentials than a mental health therapist has. When referring to mental health services, the terms therapist and counselor usually refer to the same type of professional. 

Within the mental health field, you can also find specialized counselors and therapists for marriage and family therapy, couples therapy, addiction counseling,* domestic abuse services,** or therapy for post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

When to see a counselor

People see a counselor for numerous reasons, and it isn’t necessary to have a mental health condition to seek counseling. Some people see a counselor to move through a life transition, to cope with the loss of a loved one, or simply to maintain their mental health. Regardless of the reason, you can find a counselor with experience in whatever you’re going through at this time.

Online counseling

If you don’t like the idea of going to a therapist’s office, you might try online counseling, which research has demonstrated to be just as effective as in-person counseling. With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can communicate with a counselor from home or anywhere with an internet connection via videoconferencing or phone. You can also contact your counselor via in-app messaging whenever you have a question or concern, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.

Below is a review from someone who reached out to BetterHelp for counseling.

Counselor review

"I have come a long way. With the help of Alexis, I have accomplished things I thought I'd never do. I am glad I did this, it has benefited me so much. With the guidance and encouragement of Alexis, I am more confident in myself and I see a clear path to success and happiness. I have learned to control myself and not doubt myself. It is hard to let go but I know I will be fine and if I need [help] she will still be here for me. Thank you Alexis you have truly helped me change my life. I am so grateful. I wish you the best!"

Wondering if there is more than one type of counselor?


There are many different types of counselors and therapists, and many words can be used to describe their expertise. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a mental health professional (spelled counselor) who has training and experience in whatever mental health challenges you're facing. You can also find a therapist who has experience helping people navigate relationship challenges, using various counseling approaches. Whatever you're experiencing, you don't have to face it alone. Take the first step to improvement and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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