Peer Advocates and Professional Counselors: What’s the Difference?

Peer Advocates and Professional Counselors: What’s the Difference?

This post was written by Ashley, a loveisrespect intern.

Here at loveisrespect, we’re often asked what the differences are between our peer advocates and professional counselors. Loveisrespect advocates and professional counselors can both be part of your overall support system, but we each provide different levels of support. Here’s a quick breakdown to help clarify these differences:

Loveisrespect peer advocates:

  • have received 40+ hours of training on dating abuse, domestic violence, and healthy relationships.
  • provide crisis intervention. This means that we help assess your current situation, focus on what you’re feeling in the moment, support you and help create a plan of action that might include referrals to additional resources.
  • can provide education on a variety of topics related to domestic violence, dating abuse, and healthy relationships.
  • communicate with you confidentially via phone, chat, or text.
  • are available 24/7 at no cost to you (normal texting/data rates do apply).
  • are meant to be a short-term support system (for example, when you have questions about your relationship).

Professional counselors:

  • are required to be licensed by the state they’re practicing in, meaning they have obtained at least a Masters-level education in counseling or a related field and have completed thousands of hours of additional supervised post-graduate work.
  • are often used for issues like coping with anxiety/stress, big life changes, depression, or resolving trauma (in other words, complex issues that might take months or even years to work through).
  • may talk with you about goals for your session(s) and help create a plan of action to reach the desired outcome.
  • usually meet with you in person during scheduled, confidential sessions.
  • charge for their services. Some counselors charge fees on a sliding scale or may give discounts if you’re a student. Be sure to discuss fees up front when/if you choose to meet with them!
  • are typically meant to provide ongoing, long-term support.

Basically, our peer advocates are always here to help when you have questions about your relationship, if you need more information about healthy vs. unhealthy dating behaviors, or even if you’re in an abusive relationship and don’t know what to do. Depending on your situation, we can refer you to a professional in your area who is able to provide more long-term, focused counseling and support, if that’s what you decide you need.

Need to talk to someone today about your relationship? You can call us anytime at 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522, or chat with us here on the website!

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