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Is It Spelled Counselor or Counsellor, and What’s the Difference?

Most other countries where English is the official language, for example, most of the countries in the Commonwealth, use the spelling with two Ls.

Beth Taylor
Beth Taylor

The word “counselor” is a noun meaning someone who gives advice. It comes from the French “conseiller” meaning to advise, which originates from the Latin “consilium,” meaning consultation or advice.

Counsellor or Counselor? Definition of the Words

The word “counselor” has different meanings, but a primary definition is a qualified person who advises about psychological or personal issues. A counselor provides therapy for individuals, couples, and families, and although both professions require special training in mental health, counselors are not the same as therapists. Patients work with a therapist for an indefinite period of time and often work on past issues or treat mental health conditions. In contrast, patients work with counselors on a short-term basis to evaluate their current lifestyle and behavior, change their attitude, and seek guidance for the future.

Counselor vs. Counsellor

In British English, the word is spelled counsellor. The meaning remains the same. Most other countries where English is the official language, for example, most of the countries in the Commonwealth, use the spelling with two Ls.

How Do You Spell “Counselor”?

Anyone else whose role it is to give advice in a specific field can also use the title “counselor,” for example, a financial counselor or a debt counselor. These counselors specialize in their subjects, but they are not mental health professionals. The word can be spelled in these cases with one or two Ls. However, there are some other meanings of the word counselor that are exclusive to the United States:

  1. A senior diplomat;
  2. A lawyer;
  3. A summer camp supervisor.

In British English, lawyers and summer camp supervisors are not known as counselors, so it can always be written the American way with one L.

The word counselor should not be confused with a councilor, meaning a council member.

Counsellor vs. Counselor: Examples

We have a school counselor to support students in their psychological, social, and academic development, with a focus on career advice.
After my wife’s death, I saw a grief counselor to help me move on with my life.
I’m going to see a counselor to work through my feelings.
Counselors are specially trained to listen to your issues and provide you with non-judgemental advice.
My homeroom teacher dismissed my concerns about bullying, so I went to see the guidance counselor.
My husband and I are going to see a marriage counselor see if we can rebuild our trust.
When we moved house, our daughter started to act out, so she went to see a counselor to identify and understand her feelings.
Substance abuse counselors work with people struggling with various addictions, from drugs to gambling and eating disorders.
Maybe you should see a counselor if you have no one in your inner circle to talk to.

Single vs. Double L Words

As well as counselor/counsellor and councilor/councillor, other words are spelled with one L in American English and two Ls in most other English-speaking countries. This is because, in British English, we double the L when we add a suffix that starts with a vowel (such as -ing, -ed, or -ation) to a word with more than one syllable. Examples include cancelation, traveling, modeling, and fuel.

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Beth Taylor

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Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.