What’s the Difference Between a Psychologist and Therapist? How to Choose
Whether you’re new to therapy, getting back into it, or just wondering if you’re seeing the right type of mental health professional, you may have come across different terms, like “psychologist” and “therapist.”
You may be wondering how these types of professionals differ.
Learning the differences of psychologists and therapists may help you make the right decision.
Both psychologists and therapists can help you.
- improve your mental health
- boost emotional well-being
- address behavior disorders
You meet with one of these providers to discuss what you are going through. They listen and give you professional guidance to help you understand your struggles and overcome them.
Both types of specialists help people.
Both psychologists and therapists need to be licensed in order to practice. They must undergo education and training to help people address any mental, emotional, and behavioral health concerns. Training requirements can vary from specialty to specialty.
The main differences between therapists and psychologists are:
- Education and training are levels.
- authority to make mental health diagnoses
- The approach to treatment.
Licensed therapists must have, at minimum, a master’s degree in a field related to psychotherapy. Psychologists must have a doctorate-level degree such as a PhD or PsyD.
“There is uncertainty about these terms among people who practice them. Some psychologists with doctorate-level education will be called a therapist. Some therapists who have master’s level training in therapy may refer to themselves as counselors.”
In fact, referring to specialists without doctorate-level training as counselors rather than therapists is a general practice in the mental health field. Licensed counselors usually have a master’s degree.
“Here is a look at how master’s-level counselors and therapists are different from psychologists and doctorate-level specialists.”
The deep dive
Many psychologists are focused on treatment Their approaches are likely to be influenced by psychological research.
In particular, psychologists’ education and training are informed by research areas such as human behavior, development, and personality, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
“Approaches to psychotherapy and assessment are covered in a psychologist’s training. Most U.S. states do not have psychologists who prescribe drugs.”
Counselors and therapists are also working on treatment. They must pursue training that is relevant to providing mental health services.
The minimum education and training888-607-888-607-3166 is shorter and may be more focused on therapeutic approaches rather than research.
This means that a psychologist may have more in-depth knowledge about the science and academic literature of psychology as a basis for their treatment.
Strong theoretical background may be carried by therapists that help people work through difficulties impacting their mental health. Counselors can help their clients work through systemic difficulties, such as those that occur within families, schools, or other communities.
psychologists can help you understand mental health concerns. They may be interested in more academic approaches.
“Some licensed counselors may have the authority to make mental health diagnoses. In states that don’t allow licensed counselors to diagnose conditions, a counselor or therapist can refer patients to a psychologist or other specialist who can offer a diagnosis.”
Therapists and psychologists may both rely heavily on talk therapy techniques to help you work through concerns.
Many (but not all) psychologists use talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This can help you become more aware of negative thinking patterns and learn positive ones.
Many counselors use talk therapy.
- Clinical social work.
- “The Veteran’s Health Administration has outpatient clinics.”
- Private practice.
What do psychologists treat?
A psychologist may help with mental health concerns in the following ways:
- It is possible to diagnose a mental health condition.
- Provide treatment recommendations when you research your condition.
- therapies that may help you
- Help you understand emotions and sensations so you can make better decisions.
- work with a psychiatrist to get prescription treatments (if needed)
What do therapists treat?
A therapist may focus on more than academic research.
- Gaining a big picture of your life and mental health concerns.
- Helping you address your feelings in a constructive way.
- guiding you through healthy decision-making processes
- Talk therapy can be used to offer support.
Some states have the authority to give certain mental health diagnoses. If a diagnosis is needed, they may be able to refer you to another professional.
All therapists and psychologists need advanced degrees.
“Master’s degrees are common.”
- The Master of Social Work is a degree.
- A master of arts degree in marriage and family therapy is required.
- A master of arts in psychology is required.
A psychology degree can be obtained with a PhD or PHD degree. A post-doctoral residency is required for psychologists.
State licenses and certifications are required for psychologists, therapists, and counselors to offer treatments.
“Someone without a license can’t call themselves a psychologist, therapist, or counselor. Some older psychologists who are at master’s level but licensed were previously grandfathered in, but that practice has stopped.”
A psychologist is a type of scientist who studies human behavior and emotions.
Most psychologists offer therapy to clients in Private practice. or hospital settings, while others may only conduct scientific research. Others may conduct structured assessments, like personality or intelligence tests.
Training may be different depending on the field the professional works in. Industrial/organizational psychologists study human behavior in the workplace, but may not study individual mental health.
“A PhD is required for someone to be considered a practicing psychologist. You need a PhD or PsyD to be a psychologist in some states, but you can call yourself a therapist with a master’s degree.”
PhD and PsyD degrees allow specialists to conduct psychological or neuropsychological assessments in order to clarify mental health diagnoses and create tailored treatment recommendations.
PhDs with this training can do a lot of things. Medical professionals can enter into research through a fellowship, but they can also do a sufficient amount of research in graduate school to get a university-level research position.
PsyD specialists focus on therapeutic treatment or assessment, but their training tends to center on how to understand research for treatment applications PhD specialists are more likely to conduct the research themselves.
Still, a PhD or PsyD requires years of additional training before obtaining a license to help clients in either a Private practice. or a clinic.
During their education and training, psychologists may study one or more of the following:
- developmental psychology
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities are not always obvious.
- Decision science.
- social psychology.
- Clinical psychology.
- The psychology of cognitive things.
- Industrial/organizational psychology.
“This isn’t a complete list of specializations. As methods of understanding and treating the human mind become more advanced, the field of psychology continues to grow.”
Continuing education credits are required for psychologists to keep up with current research and treatment. The amount of CEUs varies by state.
Counselors and therapists may be required to take continuing education courses.
Some psychologists only conduct research rather than providing therapy, whereas all therapists and counselors provide some type of therapy to their clients.
Education and training in a field relevant to therapy is what licensed therapists and counselors have. There are degrees in fields like social work, marriage and family therapy, and counselling psychology.
“All therapists who offer care must have a master’s degree. Some people hold doctorates in their specialty.”
To become licensed, a therapist or counselor will have to take exams and go through training. Individual states may regulate therapy practices with licenses.
While psychologists have more advanced education and training, they are not superior to therapists or counselors.
Education is only one consideration. A variety of factors can affect the choice of a therapy professional.
The therapists and psychologists help you achieve your goals. Both are open-minded and understanding. They allow you to decide on the course of your counseling, therapy, or treatment.
Therapists use a moreholistic approach. This means talking about your whole person, so you can focus on your emotional state. Psychologists may look at how thoughts and behaviors interact with the environment.
Therapist and psychologist specialties
Subspecialties that are shared by therapists, counselors, and psychologists include:
- play therapy (for young children)
- Marriage, divorce, or couples counseling are available.
- Family counseling.
- Group therapy.
- Cultural competency training.
- counseling at school
- Substance abuse.
- addiction counseling
Choosing between a psychologist and therapist depends on what concerns you’re hoping to address. Keep in mind that the terms “psychologist,” “therapist,” and “counselor” indicate the professional’s Education and training are levels..
All of these professionals are valuable to the mental health field and can help clients in different ways.
If you are considering working with a therapist or psychologist, you can ask them about their license and training. You can ask what approaches they take and what concerns they have.
A therapist or psychologist is a good starting point.
- counseling for people
- There are concerns about divorce or marriage.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression can be treated by psychologists and therapists.
In addition, you can find both psychologists and therapists who specialize in Group therapy., which includes larger groups of people working through similar concerns.
You may benefit from Group therapy. by connecting with others and problem-solving together.
Group therapy is available for children as well as adults. Some people benefit from weekly Group therapy. sessions in addition to individual ones.
You might consider a psychologist if you want to make concrete changes to your thought patterns and behaviors, though many counselors can also address these concerns.
If a mental health condition is causing severe symptoms that interfere with your daily life, you might consider choosing a clinical psychologist.
A psychologist with a PhD can help you.
- You can manage your symptoms.
- Undiagnosed mental health conditions should be addressed.
- Recommendations from academic literature or research can be used to supplement long-term mental healthcare.
You may also want to consider costs when choosing between a psychologist or therapist.
Here are some tips for anticipating costs when seeing a psychologist or therapist.
- Be aware of fees. A Private practice. may charge higher fees, especially if specialists have many years of experience or are popular with a large clientele.
- Know that reputation may influence cost. A private practitioner may be worth the additional costs if you are seeking a particular therapist or psychologist based on their reputation.
- Try community resources or apps. Community clinics or counseling apps may be less costly, offering more affordable therapy options that charge flat fees per session or a monthly subscription fee.
- Try Group therapy.. Group therapies may be less costly than individual therapy. They may also introduce you to communities of people who share your concerns and may understand what you’re going through.
- Stay in your coverage network. If you’re insured, check with your insurance company before you see a specialist to make sure your provider is within your coverage network. Out-of-network professionals will cost you more out of pocket.
- Ask about paying on a sliding scale. Many therapists and psychologists offer sliding fees if you don’t have insurance to help you afford your treatment.
The choice of a psychologist or therapist depends on your goals and needs. Mental health professionals can help you achieve therapy goals.
Make sure you are comfortable with the professional you choose so that you can build a solid foundation for long-term care.