Difference Wiki

Counseling vs. Consultation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 4, 2023
Counseling involves providing advice or guidance, often from a professional, while consultation refers to seeking expert advice or opinions.

Key Differences

Counseling is a term often rooted in a therapeutic context, wherein a professional counselor assists individuals or groups by providing guidance and advice. This is usually aimed at resolving personal or psychological problems. The role of counseling is supportive and development-focused, providing a safe, confidential environment where individuals can discuss their problems or concerns openly.
Consultation, however, typically implies seeking advice or opinions from an expert or professional in a particular field. Unlike counseling, which may involve a series of sessions, a consultation may be a one-time meeting where the consultant provides expert advice, solutions, or recommendations regarding a specific issue or project.
Counseling tends to be more relationship-oriented, establishing a longer-term interaction between the counselor and the client. It often emphasizes emotional and social aspects, addressing the overall wellbeing of the client. Emotional support, empathy, and assistance in developing coping mechanisms are pivotal in counseling processes.
In contrast, consultation usually maintains a level of professional detachment, with the consultant offering specialized knowledge or expertise to address a particular issue. The client–consultant interaction can be transactional, focusing on problem-solving or optimizing specific outcomes rather than on developing an ongoing relationship.
While counseling is generally more holistic, aiming to assist clients in managing or overcoming personal challenges over time, consultation is typically more strategic and task-oriented. Consultants provide practical solutions or strategies based on their expertise, while counselors help clients navigate through their emotional or personal challenges.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Emotional and psychological support
Providing expert advice and recommendations


Ongoing and development-oriented
Often transactional and problem-oriented

Professional Role

Supportive, empathetic, and guiding
Advisory, analytic, and solution-oriented

Duration & Depth

Typically longer-term and in-depth
May be short-term and specific

Goal Orientation

Holistic wellbeing
Addressing a specific issue or task

Counseling and Consultation Definitions


Counseling aims to assist emotionally and psychologically.
Counseling has helped her manage stress effectively.


Consultation involves seeking expert advice.
She set up a consultation with a legal expert.


Counseling creates a safe space for open discussion.
In counseling, she found a safe space to share her fears.


Consultation involves tapping into specialized knowledge.
He sought a consultation with the specialist about the rare artifact.


Counseling is a process of supportive interaction.
She started counseling to navigate through her grief.


Consultation helps in formulating strategies or plans.
They hired a consultant for developing a business strategy.


Counseling often incorporates therapeutic methods.
Through counseling, he learned several coping mechanisms.


Consultation is typically solution-oriented.
The consultation provided clarity and practical steps for implementation.


The act of exchanging opinions and ideas; consultation
Joined in counsel with colleagues before deciding the issue.


Consultation aims to address specific problems or projects.
During the consultation, they discussed potential solutions.


Advice or guidance, especially as solicited from a knowledgeable person.


The act or process of consulting.


Private, guarded thoughts or opinions
Keep one's own counsel.


A conference at which advice is given or views are exchanged.


A lawyer or group of lawyers giving legal advice and especially conducting a case in court.


A meeting between physicians to discuss the diagnosis or treatment of a case.


To give counsel to; advise
Counseled us to be prudent.


The act of consulting.


To recommend
Counseled care in the forthcoming negotiations.


A conference for the exchange of information and advice.


To give or take advice. See Usage Note at council.


An appointment or meeting with a professional person, such as a doctor.


Assistance (especially from a professional) in the resolution of personal difficulties.


The act of consulting or conferring; deliberation of two or more persons on some matter, with a view to a decision.
Thus they doubtful consultations darkEnded.


Present participle of counsel


A council or conference, as of physicians, held to consider a special case, or of lawyers restained in a cause.


Direction or advice as to a decision or course of action.


A conference (usually with someone important);
He had a consultation with the judge
He requested an audience with the king


Something that provides direction or advice as to a decision or course of action


A conference between two or more people to consider a particular question;
Frequent consultations with his lawyer
A consultation of several medical specialists


Counseling involves providing guidance and advice.
He offers financial counseling to young entrepreneurs.


The act of referring or consulting;
Reference to an encyclopedia produced the answer


Can counseling be done in a group setting?

Yes, counseling can be conducted in individual or group settings, depending on the needs and context.

Is counseling confidential?

Typically, yes. Counseling usually adheres to strict confidentiality protocols unless there’s a risk of harm to the individual or others.

Is consultation a form of counseling?

No, consultation involves seeking expert advice or solutions for specific issues, whereas counseling is typically a longer-term process focusing on emotional and psychological support.

What is the typical duration of a consultation?

Consultation durations can vary but are often shorter and more issue-focused than counseling sessions.

Is a professional degree required for counseling?

Generally, yes. Professional counselors usually have degrees in psychology or related fields and are often licensed professionals.

Do consultants require certification?

Depending on the field, consultants might require specific certifications or qualifications to offer specialized advice.

What is the expected outcome of a consultation?

Consultations generally aim to provide actionable advice, strategies, or solutions related to specific queries or issues.

Can counseling be provided online?

Yes, online or virtual counseling has become prevalent, providing accessibility for those who cannot attend in person.

What is the main goal of counseling?

Counseling aims to provide psychological support and guidance to help individuals manage and navigate through personal, social, or psychological challenges.

Can a consultation lead to an ongoing professional relationship?

While consultations can be one-off sessions, they may evolve into ongoing professional relationships if further expertise is required.

Who typically seeks consultation?

Individuals, businesses, or organizations seeking expert advice or solutions regarding specific issues or projects might seek consultation.

How is information shared during a consultation?

Information during consultation is typically shared through dialogue, reports, or presentations, providing expert analyses and recommendations.

What is the general cost framework for consultation?

Consultation costs can vary widely based on the consultant's expertise, the domain, and the complexity of the issues addressed.

What topics are typically addressed in counseling?

Counseling can address various topics, including mental health, relationship issues, stress, grief, and more.

Are there different types of counseling approaches?

Yes, there are various counseling approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and psychodynamic, each with different methodologies.

How is progress measured in counseling?

Progress in counseling may be measured through various means, such as observing behavioral changes, achieving set goals, or using psychological assessments.

Can counseling address workplace issues?

Yes, counseling can address various workplace issues, including work-related stress, interpersonal relationships, and career development.

Is consultation available in various domains (legal, business, medical, etc.)?

Yes, consultations are available across various domains where expert advice or solutions are sought.

What is the role of empathy in counseling?

Empathy is crucial in counseling as it helps counselors understand clients’ emotions and struggles, building a supportive relationship.

How is a consultation typically structured?

Consultations usually have a structured format, beginning with understanding the issue, analyzing it, and then providing expert advice or recommendations.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons