School Psychology vs. School Counseling: What's the Difference? (2023)

Due to the increasing stressors of everyday life, experts are concerned that mental health issues are having a major impact on students, both academically and behaviorally. In an effort to combat these issues, there is a growing need for school psychologists and school counselors to support young people - and this trend is only expected to increase.

In fact, schools are facing disastershortageeducation professionals across the country, resulting in positive employment prospects and significant career advancement in these specific fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a school psychologist and a counselor are expected to workincrease by 10 percentI11 procfrom 2020 to 2030 respectively.

But what is the difference between the two professions and how do you determine which path is right for you? Here's an overview of what school psychologists and counselors do and the differences between these positions.

What is School Psychology?

School psychologists are mental health professionals who work to improve the emotional well-being and academic performance of students in the school environment. They are graduate psychology and education experts who work closely with students, teachers and parents.

To understand and improve youth mental health, school psychologists conduct psychological assessments; prepare and implement academic and behavioral intervention plans; educate staff on mental health issues; crisis response assistance; and monitor your students' overall academic, social, and behavioral progress.

In addition, school administrators often consult school psychologists to identify existing problems in the school system and implement appropriate intervention strategies targeting students, faculty, and staff.

What is school counseling?

Like school psychologists, school counselors play an important role in educational institutions, supporting young people in ensuring their academic success.

However, school counselors generally serve a broader student population and are less focused on addressing mental health issues than school psychologists. Instead, school counselors help students better understand and overcome social and behavioral challenges, develop critical skills that improve their academic performance, and provide advice on steps after graduation (e.g., career counseling and academic counseling).

(Video) Versus: School Psychologist vs. School Counselor

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5 key differences between school psychologists and counselors

While both professions are critical to student success, several key differences between the two positions make them fundamentally different. Here are the important differences between school psychologists and school counselors.

1. Job Responsibilities


While both positions often have overlapping responsibilities and work together to ensure the well-being of youth, school counselors serve a much broader student population. They assist with student behavior, provide general counseling services, and provide education and career advice.

School counselors have several responsibilities, but primarily they serve their students by:

  • Enabling them to better understand and overcome societal challenges
  • Individual guidance and small groups of students in coaching sessions
  • Assess and address behavioral problems that negatively affect academic performance
  • Promote and develop key learning skills (e.g. effective time management and creative thinking)
  • Working with students to help them achieve their academic and career goals after graduation
  • Report abuse and direct students to the appropriate resources

School psychologist

Unlike consultantsschool psychologistsact as a link between students, teachers and families. Their primary focus is on academic and mental health issues and implementing processes to improve the overall well-being of students.

(Video) Counseling Corner: What's the difference between school counselor and school psychologist?

In addition to working closely with academic administrators, school psychologists:

  • Conducting psychological and behavioral analyses
  • Learn social, behavioral and emotional skills
  • Diagnosis and support of students with special needs
  • Drawing up and implementing behavioral plans
  • Implement strategies to best support and enhance student learning outcomes
  • Assistance in responding to crisis situations and preventive actions
  • Train staff in appropriate responses to student problems in the classroom

While these differences may seem small, it's important to note that school psychologists are professionals who study how mental health issues such as anxiety can negatively affect student behavior. From there, they can diagnose and resolve these challenges. School counselors do not have the training or knowledge to deal with these problems.

2. Population


One of the major differences betweenschool counselorsand school psychologists are the population they work with. School counselors provide support to a wide range of students, helping them develop social and academic skills, set goals and choose desired career paths.

School counselors usually do not work with different stakeholders; rather, they mainly focus on students. They develop relationships with students and work with them as guidance counselors, but they rarely interact as much with teachers and families.

School psychologist

Unlike school counselors, school psychologists work closely with both students and teachers who are dealing with specific mental health and academic success issues.

“When a teacher is struggling with a student in class and doesn't know what to do, whether it be an academic, social or behavioral problem, the school psychologist will work with them to identify certain strategies and act as a coach to help those strategies implement." - saysAmy Briesch, associate professor and director of the School of Psychology at Northeastern University's Bouve College of Health Sciences.

(Video) School Psychologist, School Counselor, and School Social Worker | What's the difference?

School psychologists' involvement in developing these strategies to help both the children and adults around them is unique to the profession.

3. Average salary


Another crucial difference between the two jobs is the average salary associated with each role. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, school counselors earn on average about58 120 $per year. This number is highly dependent on your level of education and the state in which you work.

School psychologist

School psychologists can count on an average salary of79 820 $annual. While this number depends on the same factors that make up a school counselor's salary, the pay gap between the two positions is reflected in the amount of training, licensing, and knowledge required to become a school psychologist.

4. Education and Training Requirements


As mentioned, the different pay potential of the two positions is often attributed to differences in education and training requirements. School counselors are required to earn at least a bachelor's and master's degree, but they are not required to undergo as much individual counseling or psychological training. For example, counselors do not need to be trained to diagnose learning disabilities or to design and implement plans to support a young person's reading or math achievements.

School psychologist

(Video) School Counselors Vs School Psychologists

To work as a school psychologist, you must earn a bachelor's degree in psychology or a closely related fieldNASP approvedmaster's degree and get certified. In total it takes about three years. This path requires more specialized training and exams, but gives prospective school psychologists the tools they need to succeed right after graduation.

6. License


Working as a school psychologist or counselor requires a certain license, which varies from state to state.School counselors working in Massachusettsmust earn a master's degree in counseling, complete a 450-hour internship in an educational setting, and pass a communication and literacy test.

School psychologist

In Massachusetts, school psychologists must earn a NASP-approved master's degree, complete an internship of at least 1,200 hours (half of which is in a school setting), and pass a communication and literacy test.

Once licensed, school psychologists and counselors are expected to maintain their license, improve their skills, and continue their professional development.

Choosing a career path for you

School psychologists and educators play an important role in educational institutions and have a huge impact on the well-being and educational development of their students. Whichever career path you choose, it is a very rewarding career to work with young people and help them improve their academic performance.

If school psychology sounds good to you, start your journey by applyingMS / CAGS Northeastern University in schoolpsychologieplan.

(Video) Differences Between | School Psychologists and School Counselors | Salary Differences


School Psychology vs. School Counseling: What's the Difference? ›

School counselors deliver basic services to a broad range of students, but school psychologists provide comprehensive mental health care services to students who are struggling with their mental health.

What are some of the major differences between counseling and psychology programs? ›

While counselors are focused on general therapy that may apply psychologists' research, psychologists are more focused on evaluation within the field and they provide interventions for clients with specific disorders through diagnostic test administration, consultation with healthcare professionals and research.

What makes school psychology different? ›

School psychology is a separate branch of psychology that focuses on improving a student's capacity to learn. Informed by a background in educational, developmental, community, behavioral, and clinical psychology, school psychologists aim to help students succeed academically, socially, emotionally, and mentally.

What is one significant difference between a school psychologist and a school social worker? ›

School Psychologists: individual behavior/personality and ability assessment, organizational consultation. School Social Workers: identification of students at risk, early interventions, problem solving services to students, parents, school personnel, and community agencies.

Do school counselors recognize and distinguish individual and group differences and strive to equally value all students and groups? ›

School counselors recognize and distinguish individual and group differences and strive to equally value all students and groups. School counselors are advocates for the equitable treatment of all students in school and in the community.

What is the difference between Counselling and psychology? ›

Psychologists use treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy, which identifies and challenges unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, and tools like psychological testing to inform strategies for therapy. Counsellors adopt a more person-centred approach, says Dr Snell.

What is the difference between Counselling and psychological therapy? ›

Counselling is a short-term treatment that places emphasis on a specific symptom or situation, whereas psychotherapy is an approach that provides long-term relief and aims to gain a deeper cognizance of a person's problems.

What is the main focus of school psychology? ›

School psychology is a field of study and professional practice focused on the development and education of children, as well as the child's psychological needs in a school setting. School psychology is well-rooted in functional psychology, clinical psychology, child development, and special education.

What are some of the main differences between the careers of school psychologist and school counselor? ›

School counselors focus more on improving mental health and behavioral symptoms through individual and group counseling and education. Typically, they serve the entire school population. School psychologists focus on understanding behavioral symptoms and academic issues via testing, researching, and assessing.

What is school psychology in simple terms? ›

School Psychology, a general practice of Health Service Psychology, is concerned with children, youth, families, and the schooling process.

What does a school psychologist do in social emotional learning? ›

School psychologists are in a primary role to assist school administrators and other personnel in making decisions about effective programs to promote desired behavior in all students and to provide interventions for those students who need more direct social or behavioral skill instruction.

How does counseling differ from psychology and social work? ›

Counselors typically focus on helping families and individuals with a specific set of problems, particularly patients with mental health disorders. Social workers, on the other hand, focus on providing a wider range of services in social service systems.

What is the difference between counseling psychology and social psychology? ›

Social psychology relies on understanding the role human behavior plays in mental well-being. Clinical psychology, on the other hand, uses a person-in-environment approach, emphasizing how biological, social, and psychological factors can affect a patient's mental state.

What do you think are the three most important characteristics of a school counselor? ›

Markers of a Great School Counselor
  • Communication. A big part of being a school counselor is listening to students, and then responding thoughtfully and effectively. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Friendliness. ...
  • Understanding of diversity. ...
  • Knowing when to act.

What is the important characteristic of a school counselor? ›

They must use listening skills and offer empathy in order to build relationships. A counselor must also perform assessments and coordinate activities and educational efforts. These duties mean they must remain flexible and exercise authority when appropriate.

What is the differential between guidance and counseling? ›

Guidance is usually the general process of guiding someone through counseling or other problem-solving. In contrast, counseling refers specifically to the process of counseling by a professional counselor based on people's personal or psychological problems. This is the main difference between guidance and counseling.

Is Counselling a form of psychology? ›

Counseling Psychology is a generalist health service (HSP) specialty in professional psychology that uses a broad range of culturally informed and culturally sensitive practices to help people improve their well-being, prevent and alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to ...

Is Counselling better than therapy? ›

Broadly speaking, counseling tends to be focused on one specific issue and considered a short-term treatment. You may learn coping techniques and problem-solve the issue together. Psychotherapy tends to treat a broader range of issues and more complex problems. It can be a long-term treatment.

What is psychology with Counselling? ›

Counselling Psychology is an applied psychology profession meaning that scientific psychological research and theory is put into practice working directly with people and organisations.

What are the goals of counselling? ›

The goal of the counseling is to enable the individual to make critical decisions regarding alternative courses of actions without outside influence. Counseling will help individuals obtain individuals obtain information and to clarify emotional concern that may interfere with or be related to the decision involved.

What are the similarities between counselling and psychotherapy? ›

Similarities between counseling and psychotherapy include: Open, safe, non-judgmental, and empowering atmosphere to explore issues and problems. Collaborative, therapeutic relationship as the foundation for growth and change. Both can be utilized by adults and children.

What are the 6 major schools of psychology? ›

The main schools of psychology are structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt, behaviorism, psychoanalysis, humanism, and cognitivism. In the past, psychologists often identified themselves exclusively with one single school of thought. Today, most psychologists have an eclectic outlook on psychology.

Why is school psychology important? ›

School psychologists are critical members of school teams, providing support for students, teacher, and parents. They have expertise in mental health, behavior, and education. School psychologists help children succeed academically, emotionally, and socially.

Why is psychology taught in schools? ›

Research is at the core of understanding human behavior. Psychology teaches students to approach and analyze research based on sound, unbiased data. Through applying these techniques, students will be able to weigh the merit of sources and make informed decisions.

What's the difference between a school psychologist and a school counselor? ›

School counselors deliver basic services to a broad range of students, but school psychologists provide comprehensive mental health care services to students who are struggling with their mental health.

What is the difference between therapy and school counseling? ›

Is a school counseling session with the school counselor the same as with an outside therapist? Answer: No. School Counselors meet with students on an individual basis to deal with crisis management and problems solving. An outside therapist will provide more intensive, individualized, and ongoing therapy.

What is the difference between a guidance counselor and a school counselor? ›

Guidance Counselors focused on vocational guidance. School Counselors focus on academic, career, and social/emotional development. Guidance Counselors worked in isolation within schools. School Counselors work with teachers, parents, administrators, outside counseling agencies, and other stakeholders.

What is school psychology examples? ›

Some typical services they provide include helping students who are bullied and those who face struggles like poor academic performance, problems at home or mental health issues. School psychologists also help students who have disabilities. This wide range of services means no two days on the job will look the same.

Who is the most famous school psychologist? ›

John Dewey

He is one of the founding fathers of functional psychology, and is best known for his work in the fields of school and civil society reform.

What is behavioral school psychology? ›

Behavioral psychology, also called behaviorism, is the study of human behavior. Its study and applications have shaped how our school system works, how parents teach their children, and how companies develop and market their products.

How is psychology used in school counseling? ›

To understand and improve young people's mental health, school psychologists conduct psychological evaluations; create and implement academic and behavioral intervention plans; educate staff on mental health issues; assist with crisis response; and monitor the overall academic, social, and behavioral progress of their ...

What is the scope of education psychology? ›

The primary focus of educational psychology is the study of how people learn. This includes exploring the instructional processes, studying individual differences in how people learn, and developing teaching methods to help people learn more effectively.

What social-emotional skills are taught in school? ›

Studies show that social-emotional skills—such as problem-solving, self-regulation, impulse control, and empathy—help improve academics, reduce negative social behaviors like bullying, and create positive classroom climates. Social-emotional skills also help kids successfully manage everyday life.

What does MC stand for in counseling? ›

MC: This stands for a master's degree in counseling.

What does MS stand for in counseling? ›

Master's in Counseling

Master of Science (MS) in counseling degrees prepare graduates to become licensed professional counselors (LPCs) in their home states. These programs typically require applicants to have a bachelor's in counseling or relevant professional experience.

What does NCC stand for in counseling? ›

The National Certified Counselor Certification (NCC) is a voluntary national certification that identifies counselors who have met national standards set by the counseling profession. The NCC is issued by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

What is the main difference between social work and psychology? ›

Social workers contribute to the human services field by providing holistic solutions to the social, behavioral, economic or health problems faced by their clients. Psychologists, on the other hand, focus their efforts specifically on helping their patients address potentially damaging mental health issues.

What are the differences between social and psychology? ›

How Does Sociology Differ from Psychology? While both study human behavior, psychology and sociology approach this subject on a different scale. Psychology is focused on understanding the individual, while sociology — like its name suggests — focuses on social groups, communities, and cultures.

What is the main difference between social psychology and sociology social psychology? ›

Social psychologists focus on how individuals cope within society, while sociologists are more interested in understanding the behavior of groups of people within society.

What is the most challenging for a school counselor? ›

4 Issues School Counselors Confront
  • Bullying in Schools. Image via Flickr by trix0r. ...
  • Suicidal Threats. While bullying is one of the most common problems counselors face, suicidal threats can be the scariest. ...
  • Home Issues. ...
  • Substance Abuse.

What two skills are important for a school counselor? ›

School counselors must have strong communication and presentation skills to provide students, parents and teachers with information on topics ranging from bullying to colleges and careers. Since school counselors often work with hundreds of students, they have very little time.

What are the three pillars of school counseling? ›

School Counseling Curriculum

Through the curriculum, school counselors teach classroom lessons organized into three domains—academic, career and social-emotional—to all students.

What is your strongest asset as a school counselor? ›

Having excellent communication skills is one of the most important skills a school counselor can have. Being able to communicate ideas, thoughts, and feelings verbally is a trait that can never go unsung as a school counselor.

What is the most effective use of a school counselors time? ›

A school counseling program recommends counselors spend most of their time in direct service to and contact with students.

What is the most fundamental attitude that a counselor must possess? ›

An effective counselor must possess a flexible attitude and unconditional positive regard to ensure your clients feel safe and understood, which in turn becomes beneficial for the development of the therapeutic alliance.

What is the relationship between guidance and Counselling in psychology? ›

Guidance is helping individual to develop his/her potentialities for all round development whereas counselling helps individual to deal with complex problem situations and make adjustment/adaptations if necessary to lead useful life. 3. Guidance is promotive and preventive whereas counselling is therapeutic.

What are the qualities of a good counselor? ›

The Qualities of a Good Counselor
  • Communication skills. Communication skills will play a key role in your relationship with your clients. ...
  • Patience. Patience will become a critical trait as a counselor. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • Non-judgmental. ...
  • Observant. ...
  • Listening Skills. ...
  • Trust. ...
  • Respectful.
Jun 21, 2021

Under which instances would counselling be a more suitable choice than guidance? ›

Guidance is the best approach for tackling educational and career problems while counseling is best employed in tackling socio-psychological and other personal problems. Guidance is provided by an expert in the field at hand or anybody superior. It does not require professional training.

What are at least 2 differences between a clinical psychologist and a Counselling psychologist? ›

The Differences Between the Two Specialties

Counseling psychologists focus on life stresses and issues with which people may struggle in daily life, home or workplaces. Clinical psychologists focus on severe issues that can be diagnosed as psychological disorders, and the roots of disorders.

What is the major distinction between counseling psychology and clinical psychology quizlet? ›

the clinical psychologist specializes in the treatment of mental disorders; the counseling psychologist specializes in the treatment of everyday adjustment problems.

What are the similarities and differences between Counselling and psychotherapy? ›

Counseling tends to be short-term and focused on addressing a specific problem, like developing coping strategies. Psychotherapy tends to be longer-term and examines thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout a person's life and how they currently impact them.

Can a Counselling psychologist diagnose? ›

Counselling psychologists: they help patients overcome emotional challenges using research-based treatments and can also diagnose more severe mental health conditions.

What is the relationship between psychology and Counselling? ›

Counselling is concerned with the integration of psychological theory with interventions and therapeutic practice. As a student on this course, you will develop a scientific understanding of psychology as a discipline and practical skills in counselling and therapy.

What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a clinical Counsellor? ›

Some key differences:

Psychologists can provide your child with a diagnosis. Counsellors may have a great deal of knowledge, but the law doesn't allow them to diagnose mental health conditions. Psychologists can assess for learning difficulties by conducting a psycho-educational assessment.

What is one of the primary differences between school psychology and clinical psychology? ›

Both may also diagnose patients, but this is often more common for clinical psychologists. However, clinical psychologists address a broad range of disorders and concerns for patients of all ages. Conversely, school psychologists focus primarily on addressing behavioral and learning concerns in children.

What branch of psychology is Counselling? ›

Counseling Psychology is a generalist health service (HSP) specialty in professional psychology that uses a broad range of culturally-informed and culturally-sensitive practices to help people improve their well-being, prevent and alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to ...

What is the most common type of assessment used by clinical and counseling psychologists? ›

Assessment Procedures Used by Counseling Psychologists

The tests used most frequently by counseling psychologists include objective and projective personality tests, individually administered tests of cognitive functioning, vocational interest tests, and brief scales to assess specific symptomology.

What is the main difference between psychologist and therapist? ›

Psychologists can do research, which is a very important contribution academically and clinically, to the profession. A therapist is a broader umbrella term for professionals who are trained—and often licensed—to provide a variety of treatments and rehabilitation for people.

What makes counseling different? ›

Counseling's core focus is on client growth, development, and wellness. Counselors are positively orientated and approach clients with a humanistic and holistic perspective. They try to develop skills and competencies to help clients create a regimen to improve and maintain their own mental wellness.

What's the difference between clinical psychology and behavioral psychology? ›

Psychology includes four major areas: clinical psychology (counseling for mental and behavioral health), cognitive psychology (the study of the mental processes), behavioral psychology (understanding behavior through different types of conditioning), and biopsychology (research on the brain, behavior, and evolution).

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy examples? ›

A counsellor is more likely to help with a specific difficulty, current problem or surface issue. An example might include a bereavement or a difficulty that is not necessarily rooted in the past. A psychotherapist is more likely to help with more deep-rooted difficulties that affects a client's life.

Do I need counselling or psychotherapy? ›

In general, counseling is recommended for specific issues and situations, such as addiction or grief, and takes place over weeks to several months. Psychotherapy, in contrast, tends to explore past issues that might be contributing to present day problems.

Should I see a psychologist or psychotherapist? ›

If you are looking for psychological tests to be administered you are looking for a psychologist. If you are looking for someone who can help you work through challenges with mood, emotional regulation, relationships or talk therapy, you are looking for a psychotherapist.


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