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What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychotherapist?



These mental health professionals might take different approaches, but they all share the same goal: to help you get your mental health back on track.

Our online counsellors hold a variety of credentials, so let’s clarify the differences!

Psychologist vs. psychotherapist vs. psychiatrist – which type of mental health care provider should I choose?

There are so many different types of mental health professionals that choosing what approach is right for you can be mind-boggling.

With that in mind, we’ve defined the differences so you can feel more confident in taking the first step towards getting help.

What is a psychologist?

The NHS defines psychology as the study of how people think and behave. But what does a psychologist in Ireland do?

Psychologists are trained in studying human behaviour and can help clients understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Psychologists can provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, or groups.

Psychologists can provide assessments and treatment across a wide range of psychological issues.

They can also assist clients in improving their mental health by equipping them with coping skills to improve their quality of life.

Certain psychologists, such as clinical and counselling psychologists, are also trained in talk therapy.

Main focus:

Psychologists are research-focused and apply interventions to help clients. Psychologists may also provide assessment and therapy of mental health disorders, depending on their level of training.

What is a psychotherapist?

Psychotherapy — known as ‘talk therapy’ — can treat individuals, families, couples, families or groups.

Typically, it involves discussing your feelings with a trained professional to help you overcome any problems you may be facing.

Whether you are dealing with low mood, stress, or feeling stuck, a psychotherapist will help you make sense of what’s troubling you so you can make changes to manage your mental health more effectively.

Main focus:

Providing psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy‘ for mental health disorders. Psychotherapists typically do not diagnose or provide mental health assessments.

What is a psychiatrist?

If you have a more severe diagnosis, medications may be needed. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who prescribe medications and provide medication management. Generally, they don’t offer counselling, but they like to see that you are engaging in counselling. Psychiatrists are more concerned about how you are responding to medications and make needed adjustments. A psychotherapist or counsellor may refer you to a psychiatrist to get medications to complement your psychotherapy treatments.

Main focus:

Psychiatrists can prescribe psychiatric medications, but they typically do not provide counselling

A Few More Tips About Different Types of Mental Health Providers:

Confusingly, ‘psychotherapist’ is a very broad umbrella term. It describes any professional trained to treat people using talking therapy so that it can cover anyone from a counsellor, cognitive behavioural therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

There are various types of psychotherapy. Some mental health professionals will specialise in one specific therapeutic method, while others will integrate many different methods. Typically, a psychologist or psychotherapist would advise the appropriate therapy or a combination of various types of therapies for an individual based on their wants and needs.

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap between what a psychologist and psychotherapist can provide. However, when choosing a professional, it is essential to pick someone you feel connected to and who specialises in the form of therapy that would be a good fit for you.

Psychologist or Psychotherapist?

How to Make a Choice

With so many options out there, it can feel overwhelming to commit to a specific kind of therapy.

If you have received a mental health diagnosis from your healthcare provider, they may recommend a form of treatment to suit your needs.

However, ultimately, the choice is yours.

Bear in mind that many mental health professionals use a combination of techniques from various types of therapy.

It’s also okay to try one approach; if you find that it isn’t a good fit for you, try another type.

Whether you decide to work with a psychotherapist or psychologist, therapy can be challenging, regardless of your chosen approach.

You might feel nervous or uncomfortable about discussing mental health symptoms and personal thoughts with a stranger, which is entirely natural and normal but often gets easier with time.

If you need help figuring out where to start, consider looking through Fettle’s database of psychotherapists and psychologists.

All our practitioners are qualified and accredited, so you can rest assured you are getting the best possible standard of care.

Our professionals also state the types of therapy they offer on their profile.

When looking for support, keep a few things in mind:

  • What issues do you want to address? Certain forms of therapy are a better fit for certain mental health issues than others. For example, Behavioural Therapy is a good fit for treating phobias. In contrast, psychodynamic psychotherapy is a good fit for somatic symptoms. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be an excellent approach for processing grief or health diagnoses, while Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for people suffering from generalised anxiety conditions.
  • Are there any specific traits you’d like in a psychologist/psychotherapist? For example, are you more comfortable working with someone older than you or closer in age?
  • Will the professional’s availability fit into your schedule? Do you want to book your 1-1’s on a specific day of the week? Or someone who has evening-time sessions? You can check each practitioner’s availability on our website before booking. If this is one of your most important criteria, you may take advantage of Fettle’s Discovery Therapy session, which allows you to match automatically with a therapist who is available at the most convenient time for you.
  • And remember, it’s okay to change therapists or therapy types if one modality is not working for you. Keep on trying until you find someone who feels right to you.

What to Expect from an Online Session with Fettle?

Here at Fettle, sessions or virtual sessions are the epitome of convenience with the same benefits as a face-to-face session.

Our virtual therapy sessions are geared toward providing comfort, trust, and healing.

Before beginning therapy, you can expect an introduction session for your counsellor and yourself to build rapport and have an equal understanding.

From there on, your therapy sessions will lead as online sessions with your selected therapist.



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