Three Common Misconceptions About Counseling (Part 3)

For the last part of this series, I wanted to tackle a misconception that I feel is more prevalent than any other. That is, what exactly is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a therapist? Often, these titles are used interchangeably in the common vernacular. Understanding who you are looking for when you seek a mental health professional is a key component in making the experience yield your desired results.

A psychologist is a doctorate level clinician who works solely with psychotherapeutic interventions while addressing a client’s needs. These clinicians may also dedicate their time to the research of psychological phenomenon as it pertains to mental health. It’s common to find psychologists who split their talents between academia and providing therapeutic services. This is the case with several clinicians associated with Envision Counseling.

A psychiatrist is a doctorate level clinician who has gone to medical school. Typically, psychiatrists’ work includes a combination of prescribing medication and performing psychotherapy. Psychiatrists often work in tandem with a psychologist or psychotherapist. This relationship is usually one where the psychiatrist manages medication for a psychologist’s or psychotherapist’s client, while the psychologist or psychotherapist provides the psychotherapeutic intervention.

A psychotherapist (commonly referred to as a therapist) is a masters level clinician who works exclusively using psychotherapeutic techniques. These individuals are clinicians who work using one on one, or group settings to conduct therapy. At times, just like a psychologist, therapists may work in conjunction with a psychiatrist to manage the medication needs of a client.

Knowing the differences between these three counselor credentials can help clients navigate towards their desired mental health care services. As I have lamented in previous posts, mental health counseling is all about the right “match”. The more you know about the field of counseling, the more informed your decisions will be when you are seeking help. If you have questions or comments, please contact