By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated October 7, 2022

Counselor Definition

There are many synonyms in the English language that sound the same but carry two entirely different meanings. These words are called homonyms. For example, "councilor" and "counselor". Even though they may sound the same in speech, it's important to use the right version of counselor in writing.

Councilor Vs. Counselors: Both Counseling?

Two words that are often confused are councilor and counselor. There are many different ways to be a counselor one might need in life. The first is a councilor defined as one who serves in a public position. 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 councilor and counselor confused, but only a counselor provides professional counseling, including online counseling, in the counseling profession.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about this:

What is the difference between a counselor and a counselor?
What is a counsellor role?
How do you become a counsellor?
How do I become a counselor without a degree?
Is a counsellor a therapist?
What skills does a counsellor need?
What makes a good counselor?
How many years does it take to become a counsellor?
What course is therapist?
Do trainee counsellors get paid?


Both of these spellings of counselor refer to someone who gives advice, counseling, or therapy. A counselor can also be a mentor, somebody who supervises young children, a clinician, but most commonly means somebody who provides counselor behavioral health services in the form of talk therapy for a broad range of challenges. Counselor can also refer to guidance counselors, school psychologists, or school counselors, frequently seen in schools or academic settings. There are some differences between a therapist meaning and counselor, as well. Refer to this link for more examples and information. 


These words mean the same thing but have different spellings. Councillor is an alternative spelling that is preferred outside the U.S. It refers to a of a professional organization, such as a city official. This individual is a of some type of governing body, and its definition refers to a public official who is responsible for creating rules and laws within their jurisdiction.

Difference Between A Therapist vs. Counselor?

A professional therapist is someone who is licensed to practice psychotherapy and behavioral psychology techniques for individuals, couples, and families in crisis or seeking advice. Today's therapists typically hold a Master's in therapy, social science, or a higher degree related to social science.
Professional therapists are required to have a degree to provide general psychology and psychotherapy services. People visit professional therapists to receive counseling for a variety of personal reasons. Seeking abuse therapy for domestic abuse or speaking with an addiction therapist to create better outcomes for you and your family is nothing to be ashamed of.

Therapist and counselor are sometimes used interchangeably but the licensing is different. You can also find specialized counseling for marriage and family, couples, addiction, PTSD, and many more. While therapists are considered counselors, they have a higher licensing thus not being just a counselor. A therapist might use the term counselor to describe their work.

When To See A Counselor

Everyone needs counseling on various issues from time to time, which is why many people seek out a counselor. Some people look forward to encouraging and insightful words from therapists or a counselor. Whether it's to work on your marriage with a couple's therapist / marriage counselor, going to see a grief counselor to work through the death of a loved one, or seeing an individual counselor for your mental health, therapy can help us get through difficult times.

Online Counseling

You can visit a therapist or counselor in your local area, or you can see an online therapist or counselor if you'd prefer the convenience and ease of working with a therapist at any time in the privacy of your home. Online makes it so you can see a counselor and get counseling any day, any time.

Counseling Types

When seeking a counselor for a mental health-related issue or social work, consider the various types of licensed social workers, and other mental health therapists available when conducting your search, and be sure to choose a licensed therapist. Note that sometimes the term therapist and counselor are used interchangeably but can refer to different professions. There are times when a licensed therapist might be more beneficial than a counselor. For example, while there may be a life coaches or a life counselor who is excellent at their jobs, due to a lack of regulation, others might not be a good life coach or counselor. And there's other times when the term counselor is applied to roles where the person cannot provide talk therapy, like a camp counselor or university admissions counselor.

BetterHelp Counseling

"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 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!"

The word variations of a counselor may sound the same, but they have very different meanings. Nevertheless, we all need help from a counselor sometimes. Don't be afraid to reach out when you need a helping hand to a therapist or another licensed professional or counselor! Take the first step today.

Counseling Benefits

Finding a counselor is a personal experience, and all licensed professional counselors are different - we're here to help you find the right counselor for you. A counselor can help you navigate life's challenges, a counselor can help you navigate family difficulties, a counselor can help you feel like yourself again.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.