Difference Between A Therapist And A Psychologist Offering Therapy

Last Update on January 20, 2021 : Published on November 16, 2020
Difference Between A Therapist And A Psychologist Offering Therapy

Hey, how are you doing?

Are you fine?

Do you plan to seek help from mental health professionals sometime soon? (Afterall, mental health matters)

If yes, then it is advised for you to first understand whether you should see a psychologist, or a therapist.

These titles might sound more or less similar as they both are trained to provide you help with mental health conditions. Yet their educational qualifications, functions, and services differ. So, when you plan to go out and seek help you should know the difference between a therapist and a counselor. This will ensure that you are getting the right help and services that you indeed required!

Also Read: Do I Need Therapy? 5 Signs You Need To See A Therapist

The key differences between a Psychologist and Therapist (A Checklist)

There is very little difference between a psychologist and therapist in terms of how they perform clinical work. They both are mental health professionals. But, they differ on the grounds of education, assessment approach, and services provided.

Ground of Difference Psychologist Therapist
Education A mental health professional with a Ph.D., Psy.D, or EdD in psychology. A mental health professional who holds a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counselling psychology. He is also certified to take therapy from the state.
Scope of Work They are trained to understand human behaviour and mental processes. Which is further used to provide the best possible solutions. They make use of different therapies like, CBT, IPT, and more, in order to treat different mental health conditions.
Nature of Work They are likely to work in the following settings:

Counselling services,
School settings.
Hospital social worker.


You can connect with a therapist in the following settings:


Mental health facilities,

Private offices.

Treatment Approach They make use of psychological testing to diagnose the underlying issue and further make use of their training to help you resolve it. They generally make a diagnosis by taking the whole picture into the light, analysing what you have to convey, identify the issue, and further provide therapy to resolve it.
Summary Psychologists generally observe, document, and interpret your behaviour aspects. Therapists work more closer to you. They will analyze you and communicate with you at therapeutic level (applying the therapy based interventions.

Also Read: How Often Should you Talk to Your Therapist

The key similarities between a Psychologist and a Therapist

  • A therapist and a counselor both are part of mental health professionals who work to take care of your mental health.
  • They both are not medical doctors, they cannot write prescriptions or perform medical procedures (exception of a few states).
  • Often they both work in association with each other to provide a holistic treatment approach to a client.
  • They both work on the three core aspects of you, that are, thoughts, behaviours, and feelings.
  • They both offer interventions that can be based in short-term, and long term approaches.

Also Read: Therapy Vs Advice: Is There A Difference Between The Two?

An-in Depth Understanding of Psychologist and Therapist:

A Therapist

1. Educational Qualification:

A therapist usually has a Master’s or Doctoral degree in at least one of the following disciplines: social work, couple and family therapy, general counseling, spiritual care, or psychology. It is an umbrella term for different therapists however, when we talk about mental health, we generally refer to psychotherapists. They are trained and licenced to provide a variety of treatments and rehabilitation.

2. Functioning:

With a goal to help you address the issue and live the life fully the therapist involves in

When to see a therapist?

If you can relate with the signs mentioned below you can consider visiting a therapist:

  • You are facing difficulty regulating your emotions.
  • You are experiencing unexplained changes in your sleep and appetite patterns.
  • You are struggling with maintaining your relationships with others.
  • You have recently experienced trauma in your life.
  • You have lost your interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
  • You find yourself grieving most of the time.
  • You are abusing some or the other substance.
  • Most importantly, you are looking for ways to improve yourself but you are uncertain of where to start from.

A Psychologist:

1. Educational Qualification:

A psychologist has a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, EdD) in the field of psychology. They are trained and educated to focus on how mental processes coincide with behaviours, emotions, reactions and, in cases of addiction or trauma, trigger events or situations. They need a licence to practice (requirements vary by state).

Typically licensure requires a doctorate in psychology, an internship under a supervised professional for at least a year or two. Along with this, it might also require an examination to start with functioning.

2. Functioning:

They may be involved in conducting interviews, and administering psychological tests to diagnose the client’s problem. They might work either as a private practitioner, or at menstrual institutions, at social agencies, or at hospitals.

When to see a psychologist?

Generally, people seek help from a psychologist for the following reasons:

  • Loss of a closed one.
  • Stress and anxiety (at the beginning level)
  • Family and relationship issues.
  • Unhealthy habits and addictions.
  • Sleeping issues.
  • Performance enhancement.
  • Improving mental clarity.
  • Overcoming life challenges that are currently weighing you down.
  • To build on adaptive coping skills.

Whom should you consult to- A psychologist or a therapist?

So far you can interpret that psychologists and therapists are two different professionals with the same, that is, help you live a satisfactory life. But, for you to decide with whom you should book your appointment with a psychologist or a therapist here is what you should refer to:

If you are having issues in life that have started to interfere in your normal life functioning visit a psychologist.

If you feel that you are struggling with a mental issue and need a professional’s help to regain your equilibrium and fight off the issue.

Well, sometimes we are not aware of whether we are going through some health issues or not. For that you may start by visiting a psychologist and depending on your diagnosis he may refer you to a therapist.

Popular FAQs

1. Is a psychologist better than a therapist?

There is no competition between these two mental health professions. They both have to offer different sets of services which are important at their place. It depends on your need.

2. Do psychologists do therapy?

If a psychologist is trained and certified for therapy, they will give therapy to you. But, generally, the kind of therapy offered by them is talk therapy. Their primary focus will be on helping you learn healthy coping styles to deal with your life issues effectively.

3. Will a therapist diagnose me or a psychologist?

A clinical psychologist and a licensed therapist are both qualified to diagnose you and suggest you further treatment approaches (excluding medication).

We hope now you have a clearer idea of the functioning of a psychologist and a therapist. Now, it is time for you to book an appointment depending on your need and the issue that you wish to address.

If you have any other questions popping in your head, drop them in the comments section below and we will get back to you. Till then take care of yourself and your mental well-being.

Thank you for reading.

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About The Author

Anjali Singh
Anjali Singh

Anjali Singh is a content curator in the field of Mental Health. She is currently done Ph.D. in Psychology. Her aim is to light up the world with positive vibes through her words, her idea of life is ‘Grow through what you go through’. Apart from this, she is a big-time pet lover.


  1. Kerin

    Probably the most important read for today. I was always confused between the two.

  2. Amara Smith
    Amara Smith

    now i got the point. Better explained blog.

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