Difference Between Clinical Psychology and Counseling (With Table)

Psychology is simply the study of behavior and the mind. It encircles the biological influences, environmental factors, and social pressures that directly or indirectly affect people’s perception, cognition, and behavior. It is a broad and diverse field of study, encompassing human thought and behavior. To study these fields, a variety of different specialty areas have emerged.

Clinical Psychology vs Counseling

The differences seen between Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology are really less. The word clinical has emerged from the Greek word “kline,” meaning bed. In older times, Clinical psychologists used to deliver their services at the bedside of a patient. The word counseling originates from the Latin word “consulere,” which means advising. Counseling psychology is generally referred to as practice and people who provide health facilities in professional psychology. 

Clinical Psychology can be called the branch of psychology that mainly deals with comprehensive mental and behavioral health conditions of individuals and families, training, consultation to agencies and communities, education, supervision, and research-based practice and then ultimately take care of it. The engagement with the particular areas of knowledge, researching and reviewing about science, and methods relevant to the problems related to mind and behavior are identified as clinical psychology.

Counseling psychology extensively deals with how humans function. This research involves both personal assessments as well as an individual’s relationships with others at all stages of life. Counseling psychologists primarily deal with the social, emotional, work, school, and even physical health issues that people may have faced at various points in their lives. They try to focus on the typical life stresses and other more severe issues with which a person might be struggling. These struggles could be with themselves or with other people.

Comparison Table Between Clinical Psychology and Counseling

Parameters of ComparisonClinical PsychologyCounseling
DefinitionIt is a branch of psychology concerned with providing continuous and comprehensive, assessments and treatments for mental illnesses and behavioural problems.It is a branch within professional psychology, that concerns with using psychological methods to impart positive growth.
PracticeThe area of practice includes treatment and assessment of moderate to severe mental illnesses.The area of practice includes personal or interpersonal well being across the life span.
QualificationClinical psychologists receive training in theoretical orientations, including psychoanalytic, behavioural, and cognitive-behavioural theoretical foundations, and many more. Counseling psychologists are associated with humanistic and person-centered theoretical orientations.
Population servedThey work in Universities and or Community mental health centres. They work at university counseling centers in human service places, like mental health clinics, family services, etc.
Theories of OrientationPsychologists are inclined towards a psychoanalytic approach or behavioristic approach.Psychologists are inclined towards a client centred or humanistic approach.

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical Psychology is the very branch of psychology that deals with providing continuous and comprehensive assessments and treatments for mental illnesses and behavioral problems. Clinical psychologists have working areas of a broad range. Counseling psychologists are more focused on the healthier, less pathological populations. Whether clinical diagnoses or psychopathology, Counsellors tend to receive more extensive training clinically with severe illnesses in accordance with psychopathology, which means it involves schizophrenia and other central depressive issues.

 For the assessments of the clients, the Clinical Psychologist uses several methods. These primarily include psychometric tests, interviews, and different kinds of observations. Assessments include behavioral assessment, diagnostic interviewing, administration, and results used to interpret psychological test measures. Now, the interpose has three distinct levels; primary, secondary, and tertiary. A Clinical psychologist provides several clinical services to individuals, families, and groups under this method. 

They work in suitable health and social care atmospheres that mean hospitals, clinics, and community mental issue clinics. They are in charge as a scientist-practitioner and also are a part of certified research. They are even added to the work team to evaluate current services to provide a justified evidence basis for practice. They could also have Private practice or in hospitals, primary care settings, and academic medical centers. 

What is Counseling?

Counseling Psychology specializes in professional psychology that works with using psychological principles to increase and encourage the concept of positive growth widely. It is person-centered and has broad theoretical orientations. Clinical psychologists are mainly focused on a particular individual with serious mental health issues, for example, psychosis.

Counseling psychologists are often employed at Universities, their counseling centers. They are also present in other public service centers, such as mental health centers and family places. Across all the levels of development (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and older age), counseling psychologists pay attention to, Health aspects, environmental/ situational influences, issues of social justice, and the role of a career in an individual’s life.

Their work is oriented towards healthier patients dealing with less severe psychological problems. These psychologists combine the theories of psychology and research into a field known as therapeutic practice. They work with a number of patients or clients to know about the mental problem and understand the underlying issues that are their root cause. They even have a tendency to work with patients to empower them in decision-making and help improve their sense of personal well-being. Most counseling psychologists are employed in the area of clinical work in social care and health settings.

Main Differences Between Clinical Psychology and Counseling

  1. Clinical Psychology provides services to the specialized population or cases concerned with psychopathology. Whereas Counseling Psychology is concerned with a healthy population with fewer risks.
  2. Clinical Psychology assesses and treats various types of mental illnesses. Whereas, Counseling deals with personal and interpersonal well-being.
  3. The assessments of Clinical Psychology are based on Psychopathology. In contrast to that, the assessments of Counseling Psychology are career or vocational-based.
  4. Clinical Psychologists work in Clinical or inpatient settings. As in the case of Counseling Psychologists, they work in Universities or in Educational institutions as counselors.
  5. Clinical Psychologists are more inclined towards Cognitive-Behavioural therapy (CBT) and manualized treatments. As opposed to that, Counsellors are inclined towards various multicultural approaches.


The difference between these two types of psychology is highly complicated. However, traditionally, the significant difference between the two terms – counseling psychology and clinical psychology is their way of looking at it and training. Psychologists of both categories work with the same kind of patients and generally in the same environment.

Thus, the distinction between them is minimal to be noticed by someone who does not have explicit knowledge of both. The overlap between the two could be observed. It can happen that in the coming time, these practices will continue to advance and ultimately arise as one. And it is also equally possible that the differences between these two become more apparent again.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-21512-001
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10447-008-9048-y.pdf
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