Often used interchangeably, a therapist and a psychologist, both, work relentlessly to promote mental health and well-being in today’s fast-paced world. But, if they work the same job, what really makes them different?
A therapist is an umbrella term usually used for any practitioner working towards physical and mental well-being of an individual. They may carry varied degrees that aid the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals. They are mostly seen in the field of social work and practise in independent or government-aided settings. While a therapist might be a psychologist, they may also be counsellors, life coaches, wellness trainers or social workers.
On the other hand, a psychologist is a certified and trained mental health practitioner who usually works in tandem with psychiatrists. Focusing primarily on cognitive and behavioural challenges faced by an individual, they hold masters degrees followed by PhD’s and or PsyD’s in specific fields of clinical and counselling psychology. With several years of research and practice up their sleeves they become licensed practitioners who help diagnose, treat and provide therapeutic support and guidance to people with mental and emotional concerns.
While choosing the right support system for yourself, it is essential to draw out the differences in practitioners to help identify the individual best suited to your needs. If you have a specific diagnosis that needs professional mental help, there is no better option than a psychologist trained specifically under the clinical or counselling domain for you. The structure and organization that comes with being a psychologist helps them practice their profession with strict ethical guidelines, which provide for a structure and framework grounded in numerous years of research and education. A therapists role is eclectic and hands-on, helping individuals in society find the right partners to channelize and direct their energies into the right sources, and find the effective methods of support for their concerns.
While one stands as a professionally trained approach, the other stands representative of a multidisciplinary approach. Choosing the right therapist is important, and the only way to do that is by asking the right questions. Understanding your providers skill-set and their previous experience and knowledge with your specific concern would help you determine who to reach out to, and whether an individual or group approach would be better suited to you.
Always remember, neither of the two are authorised to prescribe medication and that happens only with a psychiatrist on recommendation. While, not always necessary, either a psychologist or therapist would endorse medication based on the severity of your mental health concern.
Last but not the least, given the extensive training that a psychologist undergoes, they are usually seen to charge slightly higher than social workers and therapists. But, then again it’s the quality of work and experience that they are basing their costs on and hope to provide nothing but the best for individuals seeking mental help.