Counseling, Psychotherapy, or Life Coaching??

There is a plethora of terms in the mental health field that describe services that can be provided.  Often the terms are used interchangeably, but in reality counseling, coaching, and psychotherapy as services have distinct functions from each other.  I post this blog as a way of introducing our web site visitors to a new service that we are launching in 2017 now that it is the New Year!

The terms are confusing, so if in doubt what services would be best for you, give us a call at 201-962-6443 or email us at and we will design a program that would best suit your needs.

So what is Counseling?

Counseling comes in many forms and is done by many types of mental health, school, medical, and clergy professionals. However, generally it is a short-term process of ten sessions or under with individuals, couples, or families to help them with a particular crisis at a place along their life span.  Medical insurance benefits generally are not used for this service; but, it depends on the client’s presenting issues and the medical necessity of using one’s insurance, will be determined by your counselor.

Counseling services may be offered to individuals who are in crisis, such as grief counseling following the death of a loved one, or they may offered to individuals for the purpose of growth, such as pre-marital counseling offered by clergy or mental health practitioners prior to the wedding ceremony of the couple.

According to the Society of Counseling Psychology, “Counseling Psychology is a specialty within professional psychology that maintains a focus on facilitating personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span.  The specialty pays particular attention to emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns” (

And what is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is the in-depth and long-term process of exploring the underlying etiologies and patterns of behaviors and emotions that cause distress. This may be geared for individuals, couples, and families who are facing phase of life issues, but is also utilized for individuals who are struggling with mental health issues.  Only state-licensed mental health professionals who have completed psychotherapy-training courses can do this work.  For these services, clients may use their medical insurance if they have a mental health benefit.

Individuals, couples, or families generally present for psychotherapy services when they are in crisis and need an assessment and detailed treatment plan to heal their emotions and behaviors.  Many different psychological theories are applied in this work with clients.

According the Mayo Clinic, “Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider.  During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors” (www.mayoclinic).

And what is this new thing I’ve been hearing about, called Life Coaching?

In the last decade or so, coaching has become a much bandied about term in multiple settings and is all over the internet—financial institutions, academia, health and physical fitness industries, and now mental health fields.  Life Coaching is a much less regulated industry and the services may or may not be conducted by licensed professionals.  However, all of the coaches at Hudson River Care & Counseling are certified, and also are licensed mental health professionals.

The function of coaching services is to do short-term problem solving (1-20 sessions) around a particular issue of weight loss, career, relationship improvement, and life purpose, spiritual or religious struggles. According to Life Coaching.Com “Life Coaching is a profession that is profoundly different from consulting, mentoring, advice, therapy, or counseling.  The coaching process addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client's personal life, relationships or profession by examining what is going on right now, discovering what your obstacles or challenges might be, and choosing a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.”

We will offer services either in-person in one of our two offices or on the Internet.  Medical insurance cannot be used for these services. One of our coaches will offer you particular skill sets and strategies, and draw out your strengths, without necessarily delving into deeper psychological or spiritual issues. 

Blessings on your journey,