‘Counselling' or Counseling': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on February 1, 2023

‘Counselling’ and ‘counseling’ both sound exactly the same, but what’s the difference between them? And how do you use them correctly? We’ll go over that in detail in this article, plus teach you how to use the correct one in a sentence.

In short, the difference is that:

  • ‘Counseling’ is the American English spelling of the word.
  • ‘Counselling’ is the version of the word typically used in other English-speaking countries, such as the UK.

They mean the exact same thing.

‘Counseling’ or ‘Counselling’ – What’s the Difference?

As we just learned, there’s really no difference between these two words other than spelling and context.

You’d only use the version with double ‘L’s’ outside of the U.S.

 ‘Counseling’ vs. Therapy

Counseling and therapy are sometimes used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. However, counseling and therapy are different.

According to Better Help, both can help you accomplish mental health goals, but ‘counseling’ usually has a shorter timeframe than therapy.

Counseling is more focused on one specific issue, while therapy treats a broader range of issues, as well as more complex problems.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Counselling’ and ‘Counseling’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘counselling’ and ‘counseling’ is professional guidance of the individual by using psychological methods, especially in collecting case history data, using a few different techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and abilities.

A Brief History

The first known use of the word was in 1927.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Counselling’ and ‘Counseling’

Wondering how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

  • To pronounce both words correctly, use the phonetic spelling: kOUtsUHling

How to Use ‘Counselling’ and ‘Counseling’ in a Sentence

Now that we know what the words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see some examples of how to use these words in a sentence.

  • Me and my husband started going to counseling for our marital issues.
  • We just started counseling two couples in the community. Do you want to sign up for counseling too?
  • I never wanted to start going to counseling. I don’t think I need it, but my fiancée.
  • After counseling, all I wanted to do was go to a bar and get a beer. It didn’t go well.
  • I think our counseling has been pretty effective. We’re communicating more than normal.
  • My husband signed us up for counseling without telling me. I’m not looking forward to it.

Final Thoughts on ‘Counselling’ and ‘Counseling’

To recap, we learned that the difference between the words is:

  • ‘Counseling’ is the American English spelling of the word. Use it only if your audience is in the U.S.
  • ‘Counselling’ is the UK spelling of the word. It’s also used in other English-speaking countries.

Remember, they mean the exact same thing. So, if your audience changes, you can swap these words out for one another.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back and refresh your memory. We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language. Go check it out.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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