The Main Differences Between A Psychologist And A Therapist

The terms psychologist and therapist are often used interchangeably when discussing matters relating to mental health. Indeed, both professions exist for the same purpose: to help people better themselves, however, there are notable differences between the two roles. Finding what type of mental health support you require can be difficult, so understanding the main differences between a psychologist and therapist can help you choose which one would suit your situation more.


The role of the psychologist

Psychology is the study of the cognitive processes in our brains. It deals with the way we think, behave, and interact with our fellow man. A psychologist is someone who has undertaken psychology-based academic studies and has obtained notable qualifications in the field. Most professional psychologists will hold advanced degrees in the subject, usually a Master's degree or a Ph.D. The title of psychologist serves as an indicator of professional recognition.

The knowledge possessed by these individuals can then be applied to all manner of life; mental health, economics, education, etc. The role of the psychologist is to understand the why of circumstances, and then offer guidance in order to improve matters. Psychologists also often specialize in particular fields of study such as educational, health, occupational, forensic, or clinical.


Counselling psychologists

Counselling psychologists are more 'applied' psychologists who work directly with individual clients in order to diagnose their mental health issues. The particular problems which they may address are often dependent on the psychologist's area of expertise and experience, such as relationship problems, marriage advice or coping with stress or bereavement. Counselling psychologists apply the scientific understandings of their chosen field to a person's circumstances in order to offer them the therapeutic guidance they need to improve their lives.


Differences between a counselling psychologist and therapist

The term 'therapist' is an umbrella term for a multitude of different approaches to treating mental health. This can include social workers, marriage counsellors, life coaches, psychotherapists and many other different disciplines. The role of therapist is to meet directly with patients, usually once a week, and help decide which route of action will be more beneficial in helping people address their issues. Once the therapist has established a necessary method of treatment, the therapist may refer the patient to someone with more expertise in the required therapeutic approach.


There is a distinctive overlap between counselling psychologists and therapists; even to the point of people using the terms interchangeably. When choosing either a counselling psychologist or therapist for your treatment, ensure that you take into consideration the credentials of the individual as opposed to their title. Familiarize yourself with their education, their licensing, and their years of experience in their chosen field. Take into consideration their professional expertise at dealing with situations similar to your own in their past then use their factors as the basis of your decision.

Such decisions can be very difficult to make, particularly to someone who is unsure of exactly what they're struggling with. Seeking professional help, however, is often necessary for self-improvement, so simply making the decision to seek treatment is a step in the right direction.

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