Councilor Vs. Counselor: What Is The Difference?

Updated March 8, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

There are many words in the English language that sound the same but have different meanings. These words are called homophones and can lead to some confusion for people when trying to use the right word – or, in this case, get the right kind of help. Two such words that can confuse people are councilor and counselor. While counselor and councilor may sound the same, they refer to people in many professions that are all very different from each other. So how do you know if you need a counselor or a councilor, counselor or councilor, and what type of counselor you may need?

What Is A Councilor?

Put, a councilor is a noun that refers to a member of a council. Outside of the U.S., it is more often spelled ‘councillor’ instead. Within the U.S., our councilors are members of a city council.  These are elected officials responsible for dealing with political issues within a city, such as passing new laws or dealing with complaints from citizens.

What Is A Counselor?

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The word counselor sounds like the word councilor, but the meanings of these two words are very different. The definition a counselor is a person who counsels people by giving advice, which is very different from someone who is a member of a city government. Counselors work to help people in many different ways because counseling is a very wide one. Those who work in the field of counseling help people deal with some personal issues. The word counselor can refer to a person who works in a mental health capacity, a guidance capacity, or even a legal capacity.

When referring to the word counselor in a mental health capacity, these people have a degree in counseling, most often a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field, and are often licensed by their state. People with mental health issues typically attend counseling sessions to help them learn how to process and cope with their concerns. Counselors work with people to help them address the underlying reasons behind their mental health concerns and help them overcome them. While the definition of a counselor is the same for people who don’t work in the mental health field, their jobs are very different. But what about the distinction between counselor vs counsellor? Do they both have the same job? Both terms allude to someone who gives advice. If you're writing in American English, use counselor; if you're writing in British English, use counsellor. Take a look at the list below to learn about some of the different counseling programs that the word counselor can refer to.

Mental Health Counseling

Perhaps the most commonly recognized form of counseling is mental health counseling. This form of counseling helps people deal with many difficulties by diagnosing and treating mental health issues. This involves talking with people to analyze their concerns, define their problems, and help them to find solutions. Counselors work to devise plans that can help a person overcome their issues, which can involve the help of psychiatrists, social workers, support groups, inpatient treatment services, or prescription medications. Licensed counselors work to help people in an array of counseling methods, including the following:

  • Couples Counseling/Marriage Counseling

This type of counseling involves working with a couple who are in a romantic relationship and desire to talk through their conflicts, feelings, struggles, and concerns related to their relationship or marriage. These types of sessions involve both partners attending sessions together, at the same time, where there is an opportunity for both people in the relationship to hear each other’s concerns and practice communicating in a safe, neutral, supportive environment. Oftentimes, those attending couples counseling/marriage counseling will also have their own individual therapist outside of these sessions for couples.

  • Family Counseling

Family therapy is a type of counseling that works to help the members of a family communicate with each other better. It can include the entire family or just the open family therapy members and still be effective in either case. Family therapists are trained to help families forge deeper connections with each other to overcome stressful events that are either over with or still ongoing. Family therapy can be between spouses or partners, parents, children, or even more extended family members. It is an especially helpful treatment for families with a member dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues. Family therapy can help members deal with a substance abuse problem as a whole, while the affected member seeks some residential treatment. Family therapy can also help provide coping mechanisms for families dealing with a serious mental health issue, in addition to individual counseling for the affected family member.

  • Substance Abuse Counseling

Substance abuse counseling helps people to deal with a substance abuse problem. These therapists specialize in helping people that have a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol. By working with a substance abuse counselor, a person can learn why they developed a substance abuse problem, any underlying mental health concerns that could contribute to their dependency, and provide them with ways to cope with their issues to overcome their addiction.

  • Trauma/Abuse Counseling

Abuse counseling is a type of counseling that helps people deal with abuse instances in their life. Abuse is defined as any act meant to exert power over another person, and it can be mental and physical. Abuse counseling is meant to address the psychological problems that can come from experiencing abuse, including trauma. Survivors of abuse typically have lingering effects associated with their abuse, especially if sustained over a long time. Abuse counseling helps address anger, self-doubt, trust concerns, anxiety, and flashbacks, among other trauma symptoms. Abuse counselors help survivors of abuse work through their problems to overcome them and move forward to more healthy habits and more integrated lives. 

Other Types Of Counseling

Not all counselors work to solve mental health issues. There are other types of licensed counselors whose jobs still involve helping people by offering advice and guidance. Here are a few of the most common examples:

  • Guidance Counseling

Typically offered in a K-12 school setting, guidance counselors are an important member of the school staff. Guidance counselors are responsible for helping students to choose classes, as well as to help them apply to colleges. They also often help students develop social and emotional skills to help them cope with school, make and keep friends, and be well-prepared for the more rigorous requirements of college life.

  • Camp Counseling

When it comes to running camps for children, many different people must keep everyone safe and engaged. Camp counselors are responsible for supervising children while they are at camp and coming up with fun, age-appropriate activities to keep kids busy. Camp counselors often help kids learn how to do swimming, camping, hiking, and other various outdoor activities. While this career path doesn’t require any degree, it requires a desire and aptitude for working with children.

  • Health Counseling

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Health and wellness counselors provide people with health-related counseling. This area of counseling involves providing people with the tools and motivation they need to better their health, usually in relation to their physical health. This can include losing weight, developing a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and even providing tactics to reduce stress. A health counselor is concerned with helping people make their overall health better to improve their quality of life by developing healthier habits.

  • Legal Counseling

A legal counsel is someone that studies or practices law. This is often used to describe an attorney or a lawyer, but it can also refer to anyone who gives legal advice to or represents someone in court proceedings. While it is spelled counselor in the US, counsellor is the preferred spelling in most other countries. Whether you spell it counselor or counsellor, the job boils down to the same thing. Legal counselors are professionally trained to work in the legal field and represent citizens, corporations, nonprofits, and other entities during legal proceedings to ensure they understand their rights. Most legal counsel specializes in a particular area of law, such as family law, criminal defense, or bankruptcy law. Some, however, chose to practice general law and take clients with a broad range of legal concerns.

We hope that this article has helped you learn the difference between the words councilor and counselor, whether you need a councilor or counselor, and the different types of counseling available. If you are trying to work through a mental health issue and need the guidance of a counselor, consider taking advantage of our online therapy options here at ReGain. With ReGain, we offer convenient online sessions that can be done from your computer, tablet, or phone whenever it best suits your schedule. Our trained and licensed therapists are here to help you work through whatever concerns you may be experiencing. Counseling is a great way to learn how to cope with your mental health struggles or work through trauma or addiction. Contact us today to learn how we can help you on your path to mental wellness.

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