Role and Distinctions in Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psych

Clinical and Experimental Psychology

Short Communication - (2021) Volume 7, Issue 7

Role and Distinctions in Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology

Shamir Zouch*
*Correspondence: Shamir Zouch, Department of Psychology, Andhra University, India, Email:

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The fact that some professional psychologists refer to themselves as "counseling" psychologists while others refer to themselves as "clinical" psychologists perplexes many people. Counseling and clinical psychologists often work together as researchers and/or practitioners in a variety of contexts, including academic institutions, hospitals, community mental health facilities, private practice, and college counseling centers, where their responsibilities and duties may overlap. To add to the confusion, legislators occasionally use the word "clinical" psychology in a generic sense to refer to all psychologists who are authorized to give direct services in health-care settings, regardless of their training.

The distinctions between counseling and clinical psychologists stem from the history of each profession, which has shaped the focus and concentration of their education. Counseling and psychotherapy are provided by both counseling and clinical psychologists. Consider the etymology of each descriptive term to gain a better understanding of the traditions and orientation of each specialization. Clinical comes from the Greek word "kline," which meaning "bed" (and is also the root of "recline"). Clinical practice has typically referred to care given to a sick patient at their bedside. The word "counsel" is derived from the Latin word "consulere," which meaning "to consult, advice, or debate." These distinctions, in general, reflect each field's initial focus. Clinical psychologists have typically investigated mental health issues, but counseling psychologists' initial job was to provide career counseling and assistance. Today, however, the distinctions between psychologists of various specialties are more complex, and individual psychologists in any discipline may share more similarities than differences.

Counseling and clinical psychology developed at the same time, and their pathways of growth crossed at times. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, psychologists began to look for ways to apply psychological science's findings to difficulties that individuals face in the real world, such as learning disabilities and mental illness. These early psychological clinics provided evaluation and treatment. Later, “clinical psychologists” began to provide psychotherapy, which had previously been reserved for psychiatrists only. Simultaneously, as society grew more industrialized, the vocational advice movement developed to offer support to people pursuing the most successful vocations (and to provide employers with the most productive employees). As psychologists explored the personality traits, interests, and aptitudes that affected job performance and satisfaction, and developed tools to measure candidates' qualities and evaluate the work environment, this discipline became increasingly reliant on scientific psychology. The Division of Personnel and Guidance Psychologists was created by the American Psychological Association in 1945.

In the aftermath of World War II, the roles of both groups of psychologists changed dramatically. Returning soldiers frequently suffered from mental health issues and required treatment in order to effectively reintegrate into society. The Veterans Administration hospital system hired a huge number of clinical and vocational psychologists and established training programmes for them in order to satisfy this extraordinary demand for mental health care. Veterans' psychological problems were treated by a large number of clinical psychologists, and the VA also contracted with schools and universities to provide vocational and educational counseling. Because employment is such an important component of life, vocational psychologists frequently discovered that the personal readjustment counselling they provided took into account other aspects of their clients' lives.

The Division of Personnel and Guidance Psychologists became the Division of Counseling Psychology in 1951. In this way, the specialty formalized its shift away from merely work concerns and toward a focus on general well-being throughout life. Counseling psychologists have frequently emphasized the field's historical concentration on a normal client group; that is, research undertaken and published in the professional literature focuses on persons who do not have major or chronic mental problems. Counseling psychology's emphasis on a developmental viewpoint to focus on an individual's strengths and adaptive skills across the life span was reiterated at the Georgia conference (1987).

As a result, a counseling psychologist's approach may reflect this viewpoint. Counseling and clinical psychologists, on the other hand, are both licensed as ‘licensed psychologists' in all 50 states, allowing them to practice independently as health care professionals. Counseling psychologists work in a variety of settings, including college and university counseling centers, university research and teaching roles, private practice, health care settings, hospitals, and organizational consulting groups, among others. If you're looking for psychotherapy or want to hire a psychologist, it's not only worthwhile but also necessary to ask the particular psychologist, whether counseling or clinical, to define his or her training, orientation, and current practice style.


  1. Price, M. “Counseling vs. clinical programs: Similarities abound.” GradPSYCH Magazine, American Psychological Association (APA) (2009).
  2. Hammer, J.H. “Counseling psychology vs. clinical psychology.” Retrieved from: (2018).
  3. Roger, P.R. & Stone, G. “Counseling Psychology vs Clinical Psychology”. What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a counseling psychologist? Society of Counseling Psychology (2021).

Author Info

Shamir Zouch*
Department of Psychology, Andhra University, India

Citation: Shamir Zouch. Role and Distinctions in Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Clin Exp Psychol, 2021, 7(7), 01.

Received: 18-Jun-2021 Published: 10-Jul-2021, DOI: 10.35248/2471-2701.21.7.262

Copyright: 2021 Shamir Zouch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.