top of page
  • Joe Burke

Do I Need a Career Counselor or Workplace Therapist? What’s the Difference? 

When faced with work anxiety, work stress, or other work-related mental health issues, you might find yourself wondering whether to seek help from a career counselor or a therapist. Both career counseling and psychotherapy offer valuable support, but they serve different purposes and cater to different needs.

Although career counseling and career coaching have subtle differences, they have a similar focus and approach, so I’ll be using those terms interchangeably here. As a therapist with a background in professional development coaching, I’ll explain the differences, benefits, and what to look for in choosing an effective provider for each service.

Therapy & Career Counseling Address Different Issues


Career counseling and coaching focus mainly on professional development and career progression. A career counselor helps you with job-related decisions, career transitions, and professional growth. This might include resume building, job searching strategies, and interview preparation. A coach or career counselor is especially helpful for identifying career goals and developing strategies to achieve those goals. Coaching and career counseling may touch on personal issues or emotions, but primarily focus on solving problems that are external in nature. 

In contrast, a therapist focusing on workplace issues addresses the psychological and emotional aspects of work-related problems such as stress, confidence, and anxiety. Therapy delves into underlying mental health factors, such as self-esteem, chronic anxiety, low assertiveness, burnout, and interpersonal conflict. The goal is to develop coping strategies and improve the underlying mental health issues that disrupt your work, career, and general well-being. Although external problem-solving may play a role at times, the primary focus is on improving the psychological factors that hold you back

Therapists Are More Regulated than Career Counselors or Coaches

Education and licensure for career counselors varies by state but, generally, licensure or an advanced degree is not required to call oneself a career counselor (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Coaching is even less regulated, requiring no education, training, or license to use the title. Nevertheless, career counselors and coaches can earn certifications that demonstrate a degree of training and quality control through organizations such as the National Career Development Association and the International Coaches Federation, respectively. 

Therapists are licensed mental health professionals such as psychologists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors with expertise in treating mental health conditions. They have 2- to 4-year advanced degrees and training in psychotherapy techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). The majority of these techniques have been subjected to academic study. Therapists are also subject to licensing and regulatory boards that require adherence to ethical standards, confidentiality, and continuing education requirements. Therapists that fail to adhere to these standards can have their licenses disciplined or revoked. 

Choose Career Counseling or Coaching If:

  • You need guidance on career choices, job searches, or professional development.

  • You’re considering a career change or need help navigating workplace dynamics.

  • Your main concern is improving job satisfaction and career advancement.

Choose Therapy for Work-Related Issues If:

  • You’re experiencing significant work-related anxiety, stress, or burnout.

  • Your work issues are affecting your mental health and overall well-being.

  • You need help with personal issues that impact your professional life, such as self-esteem, confidence, or interpersonal problems at work.

Work with a therapist experienced in work-related issues.

Schedule a free consult with Joe:

How Can Therapy Help with Work Stress, Anxiety at Work, & Other Issues? 

1. Get to The Root of The Issue

Issues at work rarely remain at work. Psychological patterns that cause issues at work often show up in your personal life, and vice-versa. When your problems at work overlap with issues in your personal life, therapists have the training and experience to go beyond the surface-level and address underlying issues.

2. Develop Emotional Skills

Therapists are especially adept at developing plans and exercises that improve confidence, self-esteem, focus, assertiveness, adaptability & resilience, empathy, communication, and more. 

3. Develop Long-Term Coping Strategies: 

Therapy develops coping strategies and helpful perspectives based on a deep understanding of your unique psychology.  Because of this, the lessons and tools developed in therapy are often broadly adaptable to a wide variety of challenges you will encounter and to your unique way of thinking.

4. Improvement Beyond Your Career

By addressing foundational issues such as self-esteem, assertiveness, resiliency, and emotional regulation, therapy facilitates lasting positive changes that extend beyond the workplace, promoting well-being in all areas of life including family dynamics, social interactions, and work-life balance.

5. Confidentiality and Trust: 

Therapists adhere to strict confidentiality guidelines backed by legal protections (similar to doctor-patient confidentiality), providing a secure space where you can discuss sensitive personal information or confidential details of your work without fear of disclosure. 

6. Access to Mental Health Resources: 

If necessary, therapists can provide professional referral for medication prescription, assessments for ADHD or other issues, substance abuse treatment, or other mental health services that may be related to your issue. They are also trained to handle acute mental health crises that may arise such as depressive episodes, panic attacks, or suicidal thoughts.

What to Look for In a Career Counselor or Coach

  • Look for a career counselor with relevant credentials, such as a master’s degree in counseling or career development and certifications from reputable organizations like the National Career Development Association (NCDA). 

  • A career coach should have training and certification from a reputable organization such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), International Association of Coaching (IAC), or others.

  • Ensure the counselor has experience in your industry or with issues similar to yours.

  • Schedule an initial consultation to assess if their approach aligns with your needs and if you feel comfortable working with them.

What to Look for In a Workplace Therapist

  • Choose a licensed therapist with appropriate qualifications, such as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC), or psychologist (PhD or PsyD). 

  • Look for therapists who have experience and focus on issues like work stress, anxiety at work, and other work-related mental health issues. 

  • Schedule an initial consultation to discuss your needs and their approach. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and choose a provider that feels comfortable to talk to. 

Work with a therapist experienced in work-related issues

Schedule a free consult with Joe:

Meet Joe Burke, Workplace Therapist in North Carolina

Picture of Joe Burke, an anxiety therapist in Cary, North Carolina

Navigating mental health issues at work can be overwhelming, but you don't have to do it alone. A workplace therapist specializes in addressing work-related stress and anxiety, imposter syndrome, and burnout- providing you with tailored strategies to maintain your composure. In the same way that you may seek out professional training or education, seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness, but a way of being proactive about strengthening your most important asset: you. 

Joe Burke is an anxiety therapist in Cary, NC specializing helping busy professionals, entrepreneurs, and other leaders enhance resilience, manage stress, and alleviate anxiety in high-pressure professions and demanding environments. 


As a licensed psychotherapist with a certificate from NC State in Business & Professional Coaching, Joe brings years of training and experience helping high-achieving adults navigate anxiety, imposter syndrome, and workplace stressors.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page