The generic term counseling‚Äù refers to listening to someone, exchanging opinions and ideas, providing consultation and guidance. The term applies any time you believe that an individual is consulting someone with greater knowledge in an area. Thus, the person may seek legal counseling, credit counseling, religious counseling, etc.
Assuming that the individual who is consulted has a greater degree of expertise. The only risk to counseling is that the advice provided may not be wholly complete, impartial and/or accurate.
Psychotherapy, by contrast refers to a therapeutic treatment contracted between a specifically trained professional and a patient, family, couple, or group. The problems addressed are psychological in nature, problems with thought, emotion and behavior.
In Workers’ Compensation, psychotherapy aims to increase the individual’s self-understanding, using a range of scientifically researched techniques (called evidence-based treatment) and is based upon doctor-patient relationship building, dialogue, communication and behavior change that are designed to improve the mental health of a patient.
Psychotherapy may be legally regulated by the State. Requirements to practice may require graduate school and supervised clinical experience and, in most States, a license to practice.
In Georgia, the title psychologist‚Äù is regulated by law, the term “counseling” is not.
Psychotherapy is, however, not benign. Certain forms of psychotherapy used with certain populations has been shown to increase, rather than decrease, symptoms. Research has shown, for example, this to be true with some schizophrenic patients.
In workers‚Äô compensation, there is a disturbing pattern when the focus of psychological care drifts from issues related to the injury, pain, depression and anxiety and is expanded to address longstanding family problems, financial concerns and a variety of other non-injury issues.
When this occurs, the injured worker may lose the inability to differentiate between factors related to injury and those which may be related to marital, family, childrearing, career decision making and financial management.
It is not the responsibility of the patient to set boundaries for injury-related care, it is the duty and obligation of the psychologist and is tied to the psychologist‚Äôs professional competence.