Counselor vs. Counsellor – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Two words that many writers get confused about are counselor and counsellor. But they are simply spelling differences in American and British English.

Is it counselor or counsellor? Find out the definitions for counselor and counsellor, and some examples of counselors in sentences. I’ll also teach you a trick to remember the distinction!

Counsellor is the preferred spelling everywhere outside the U.S. Similar distinctions apply to related words such as counseled/counselled and counseling/counselling; the single-l spellings are used in American English, and the double-l spellings are preferred outside the U.S.

Use counselor if you’re writing in American English, and use counsellor for British English. Both words refer to someone who provides counsel. The statistics for counselor’s use is higher than counsellor’s. 

Counselor or Counsellor Meaning

The definition of counselor and counsellor is the same, which is someone who is trained to advise people on specific issues. The noun, which is pronounced as kau̇n(t)-​s(ə-​)lər or kau̇n-​sə-​lər,  may also be synonymous with a lawyer–for example:

  • I am a qualified counselor who helps people fix their marriages. 

The spelling of counselor and counsellor depends on your audience. Both are noun variants of the verb counsel, which means to give advice or to advise.

Counselor and counsellor come from the Middle English and Old French word conseiller. It also has Latin roots from consiliarius, conciliatory, and consilium. 

When to Use Counselor vs. Counsellor

Counselor is the American spelling of the noun referring to (1) a person who gives counsel, (2) an attorney, and (3) a person who supervises young people at a youth camp. Counsellor is the preferred spelling everywhere outside the U.S. Similar distinctions apply to related words such as counseled/counselled and counseling/counselling; the single-l spellings are used in American English, and the double-l spellings are preferred outside the U.S.

The same rule applies to counselling vs. counseling. Americans use counseling, while British people and English writers outside the US have a preference for counselling over counseling–for example:

  • Child therapy is a type of therapy where professionals counsel children to assess their minds, find problems, and offer psychological therapies.

Examples of Counselor in a Sentence

American publications use the single-l spelling of counselor:

Teachers and school counselors help select students who might benefit from the program. [Washington Post]

Of course, now that I’m married to my Lutheran summer camp counselor Peter, Arondel and I only meet up for coffee a couple of times a year. [Slate]

Starting in January, those students were required to meet with a financial counselor to talk about what they planned to use that money. [Courier-News]

And counsellor is preferred outside the U.S.:

She has also been seeing a psychiatrist and grief counsellor. [Daily Mail (U.K.)]

In fact I’m in the middle of Googling an old camp counsellor I had a crush on. [National Post (Canada)]

Police and gambling counsellors say they are worried about a trend where vulnerable gamblers of all ages … are becoming drug mules. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Examples of Counseling in Sentences

I don’t need counseling from anyone who has given me trauma. 

It’s okay to receive counseling to cope with your grief.

Every week, group counseling is offered in this organization to discuss mental health issues. 

Convening on ‘Counsel’ and ‘Council’

Counsel and council are homophones with similar pronunciations but different spellings and meanings. Counsel is a noun or verb which means advice or to advise–for example:

  • I can count on your wise counsel.
  • She counseled them to avoid making wrong decisions.

Council is a noun that means a group of people called together–for example:

  • The British city council meeting was cancelled. 

Trick to Remember the Difference

The trick to remembering the difference between counselor and counsellor is to look at the number of Ls. Counselling has two Ls, and London starts with an L. Therefore, Counselling is the appropriate word for British English.

But the difference between councilor vs. counselor is another discussion. A counsellor or counselor is someone who provides therapy or guidance. A councilor is a member of the council.

Phrases Containing Counselor

  • counselor preparation programs.
  • financial counselor.
  • guidance counselor.
  • marriage counselor lawyer.

Final Word on Counselor vs. Counsellor

So, there you have it. I’ve shown you how to choose between counselor or counsellor. You also know counselor or counsellor’s meaning and how to use the noun in sentences. 

Remember that Counsellor is the British spelling since it has an extra L, which is London’s starting letter. And counselor is the American spelling of the noun.