Therapist Vs Psychologist : Which One To Choose


The decision on a path of mental health treatment is often left up to an individual's medical insurance, and that is likely to mean the least expensive. The choices for treatment are with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. Most often the choices are between a psychologist vs therapist. However, the decision should not be made based on expense, but rather the nature of the problem.

What is a Psychologist?


A psychologist is a doctor with a PhD or a Psy.D. A PhD practices either as a clinician, research, or both. A Psy.D. only as a clinician. A psychologist can diagnose as well as treat mental health disorders, and will often work with a psychiatrist for certain disorders that manifests with physical or neurological symptoms. In some states, psychologist can also prescribe medications, but in those that do not, a psychiatrist assigned to the case does the prescribing. For certain conditions, once treatment has reached a prescribed level, the psychologist may refer the client to a therapist who will then provide a series of therapeutic strategies. However, not all mental health conditions are appropriate for therapist referral.

What is a Therapist?


A therapist generally has a Master's degree in counseling psychology, psychology, or social work. Therapists do not ordinarily conduct research, however, they may write for publications. Their primary job is to provide therapeutic interventions for clients who are generally experiencing a situational or other manageable form of mood disturbance or disorder. Master's level therapist do not diagnose or "treat" conditions. For more severe cases, they often work with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The types of patients or clients they see are the ones who are most likely to respond favorably to cognitive and behavioral type therapies.

Conditions Most Resistant to Therapeutic Interventions


The success of therapy is dependent upon the client or patient's willingness to become an active participant in the sessions. The relationship between the therapist and the client is often called a therapeutic alliance, and positive outcomes are dependent upon this relationship. For this reason, certain types of mental illnesses are not good candidates for therapy, or therapy alone without oversight by a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Some of the conditions are:

  • Clinical depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Panic disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders

Most, if not all, of the above are often treated with a combination of prescription medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Why Therapy?

The sorts of cases that therapist typically see have to do with a temporary or situational disorder, such as mild or nonspecific depression, anxiety, grief, marital or family conflict. Any of these could, of course, co-exist with a more serious mental disorder, but these are generally more receptive to the therapeutic relationship. They are most likely to participate in the sessions and perform any "homework" assigned by the therapist.


Often, work with a psychiatrist or psychologist is passive, especially if mediations are involved. Psychologists and therapists who use cognitive-behavioral strategies attempt to engage their

patients, and have them become responsible for treatment outcomes. In order for this to work, the patient must be at a certain level of mental wellness.



Most individuals who seek therapy are those who need to talk about their problems, and that in doing so, they may experience insight into how to work through their own problems.

When an individual works with a therapist, and is able to come to realizations about how he or she is creating conflict, or at least contributing to the conflict that is interfering with their ability to function in a healthy and productive manner, it is empowering.

For more information about how therapy can benefit you, visit BetterHelp.

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