As a psychologist, I have training and experience in diagnosing and treating emotional problems. While there are some similarities between consulting and psychotherapy, they are very different activities and it is important that you understand the differences between them. Psychotherapy is a health care service and is usually reimbursable through health insurance policies. This is not true for consulting. Both consulting and psychotherapy utilize knowledge of human behavior, motivation and behavioral change and interactive counseling techniques. The major differences are in the goals, focus, and level of professional responsibility.

The focus of consultation is development and implementation of strategies to reach client identified goals of enhanced performance and personal satisfaction. Consulting may address specific personal goals that may improve your performance as a parent, specific goals to modify your child's behavior, or specific goals to create a more positive environment in your home. Consulting utilizes personal strategic planning, values clarification, brainstorming, motivational counseling and other counseling techniques.

The primary foci of psychotherapy are identification, diagnosis and treatment of mental and nervous disorders. The goals include alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying dynamics which create symptoms, changing dysfunctional behaviors which are the result of these disorders and developing new strategies for successfully coping with the psychological challenges. Psychotherapy patients are often emotionally vulnerable which gives psychotherapists greatly disproportionate power that creates a fiduciary responsibility to protect the safety of their clients and to above all else, do no harm.

The relationship between the consultant and client is specifically designed to avoid the power differentials that occur in the psychotherapy relationship. The client sets the agenda and the success of the enterprise depends on the client's willingness to take risks and try new approaches. The relationship is designed to be more direct and challenging. Your consultant will be honest and straightforward, asking powerful questions and using challenging techniques to move you forward. You are expected to evaluate progress and when consultation is not working as you wish, you should immediately inform your consultant so steps can be taken to correct the problem.

Because of these differences, the roles of consultant and psychotherapist are often in potential conflict and, under most circumstances, it is ethically inappropriate for one to play both roles with a client, whether concurrently or sequentially. Positive change is difficult enough without having to worry about role confusion. This means that if either of us recognizes that you would benefit from psychotherapeutic intervention, you will be referred to appropriate resources. In some situations, it may be insisted that you initiate psychotherapy and that access to your psychotherapist is a condition of continuing the consulting relationship.

It is also important to understand that consulting is a professional relationship. While it may often feel like a close personal relationship, it is not one that can extend beyond professional boundaries both during and after our work together.


As a licensed psychologist, I am ethically and legally bound to protect the confidentiality of our communications. I will only release information about our work to others with your written permission or if I am required to do so by a court order. There are some situations in which I am legally obligated to breach confidentiality in order to protect others from harm. If you disclose evidence or raise reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect of another, including but not limited to, a child, dependent, or elder, I must report that to the appropriate state agency. If a client is an imminent risk to him/herself or makes threats of imminent violence against another, I am required to take protective actions. These situations are quite rare in consultation practices. If such a situation occurs in our relationship, I will make every effort to discuss it with you before taking any action.

As you are no doubt aware, it is impossible to protect the confidentiality of information which is transmitted electronically. This is particularly true of e-mail and information stored on computers which are connected to the internet which do not utilize encryption and other forms of security protection.

Any advice/suggestions given during the consultation relationship does not constitute and should not be a substitute for medical advice.


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