Is there a difference between couples counseling and therapy?

Is there a difference between Couples Counseling and Couples Therapy?

The terms couples counseling and couples therapy tend to be used interchangeably. They are both used to improve romantic relationships, yet there are distinct differences between their objectives, approaches and therapeutic methods.

Couples Counseling

Couples counseling primarily focuses on specific issues within a relationship. It tends to be more short-term and problem oriented. Common issues for couples counseling include communication breakdown, infidelity, and sexual issues. The role of the counselor is to help couples identify the problem, provide methods and tools for resolving it, and offer experience-based guidance to develop workable solutions. We can think of couples counseling as a problem-solving approach that aims to help the couple overcome a particular challenge.

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy tends to be broader and more comprehensive in scope. Couples therapy oftentimes has a longer-term focus and more fully explores the underlying dynamics of the relationship. Factors such as family backgrounds, past experiences and traumas, and attachment styles are examined. Therapists in couples therapy strive to uncover root causes of ongoing issues, helping couples understand the deeper patterns in their relationship.


The professional background of the practitioner is another key difference. Couples counseling is often conducted by counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists. Couples therapy is more commonly provided by licensed psychologists or licensed marriage and family therapists who oftentimes have more extensive training in psychotherapy.

Therapeutic Methods

The therapeutic techniques used in couples counseling and couples therapy may vary. Couples counseling tends to lean on more practical, skills-based interventions. Couples therapy typically incorporates a wider range of approaches including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and systemic methods.

Power Talk Therapy is an online group practice providing therapy to adults and couples throughout California. We specialize in therapy for anxiety, depression, and trauma. Please reach out today to discuss how our team can help you or your loved one.

Se habla español >>