I get a lot of interesting questions when I meet someone new and they find out that I work in the mental health field…

“Does the work ever get to you?” Sure, it does… I’m human and I genuinely care for each client so sessions can sometimes be draining.
“Do you see a therapist yourself?” Heck, yeah… Taking care of your mental health is not a shameful thing – and it’s important to practice what you preach!
“So, can you write me a prescription for Xanax?” No, I cannot… and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

That all leads me to one of the most common questions – which needs more than just a quick answer on my FAQs pageWhat are the differences between counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists and which should I choose?

Before addressing the differences, let’s start with what is the same amongst the four scopes of practice.

The biggest similarity is that they all focus on improving the mental health of their patient. Other similarities include:

•  They are primarily “talk therapists”.
•  They are required to carry a state license to practice – at a minimum.
•  They are licensed to provide one-on-one evaluations and care.
•  They commonly practice privately or in facilities such as hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and rehab centers.

Since treating mental health problems is key for each of these professions, how do you know which type of mental health professional you should see?

Well, it depends on what you need. The most clearly defined difference of all four scopes of Psychiatrist practice is that of a psychiatrist, the only one in the field of mental health qualified to prescribe medication. This is why I cannot prescribe Xanax, even if you are really afraid to fly or of spending a few hours with your mother-in-law – because I am a Therapist, not a Psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. The real differences start with the formal education received by each mental health professional. In the case of a psychiatrist, they are the stand-alone in the field of mental health to hold the title of a medical doctor. They must complete a Ph.D. program, as well as a residency program in psychiatry.

So, if a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, why is a psychologist called a doctor as well?

Great question. The “medical” piece is the key difference. While both professionals do complete Ph.D. programs and can rightfully and respectfully be referred to with their honorific doctoral titles, the psychologist cannot prescribe medications. It’s the extra four years of hands-on training as a resident that gives the psychiatrist this extra authority over the psychologist.

education for mental health professionalsAs far as everyday practice goes, the roles tend to switch. Psychologists take more of a hands-on approach than psychiatrists. Where psychiatrists are more clinical and diagnostic, psychologists take more of a talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral approach.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists can diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychologists evaluate a person’s mental health through regularly scheduled appointments, questions, tests, and interviews. Psychiatrists monitor medication responses both physically and mentally – also at regularly scheduled appointments.

Ok, so then what is the difference between counselors and therapists?

Counselors and therapists, depending on who you ask, are perhaps the most similar and interchangeable terms. Again, the main differences falling in the education and training required. A counselor or therapist would rarely hold a Ph.D. in any psychological related field. Typically, counselors and therapists hold bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in their areas of practice, which can vary greatly.

To sum up one article I found on Psychology Today, the term therapist can be applied to those with a master’s counseling Phoenixdegree and counselor to those with a bachelor’s degree or lower. The article does clarify that this is not a hard and fast rule and often depends on state laws or even personal preference. In California, for example, a counselor is not protected under state licensure requirements to operate as a mental health professional, but therapists are.

Many counselors or therapists have extensive training in one or two specific areas of practice, while others have training in several. Some specific areas are grief, substance abuse, marriage, family, trauma, chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, or children and teens.

If you’re still not sure where to start, consider making an appointment with a Claibourne therapist.

Our team is comprised of Master’s level licensed counselors – aka therapists.

free consultation counseling scottsdaleThe most important thing to understand when it comes to your mental health is that finding someone to talk to who understands you and with whom you feel comfortable is all that matters. I will not sugarcoat anything and say that everything is all sunshine and roses once you take that first step. It can be hard, but having someone in your corner who is trained and experienced to advocate alongside you makes all the difference.

Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and we can help determine the best person for you to speak with to start your journey to a happier, healthier you.

Sending you light and love, 
Claire

~ You are worthy. You are capable. You are enough! ~

I get a lot of interesting questions when I meet someone new and they find out that I work in the mental health field…

“Does the work ever get to you?” Sure, it does… I’m human and I genuinely care for each client so sessions can sometimes be draining.
“Do you see a therapist yourself?” Heck, yeah… Taking care of your mental health is not a shameful thing – and it’s important to practice what you preach!
“So, can you write me a prescription for Xanax?” No, I cannot… and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

That all leads me to one of the most common questions – which needs more than just a quick answer on my FAQs pageWhat are the differences between counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists and which should I choose?

Before addressing the differences, let’s start with what is the same amongst the four scopes of practice.

The biggest similarity is that they all focus on improving the mental health of their patient. Other similarities include:

•  They are primarily “talk therapists”.
•  They are required to carry a state license to practice – at a minimum.
•  They are licensed to provide one-on-one evaluations and care.
•  They commonly practice privately or in facilities such as hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and rehab centers.

Since treating mental health problems is key for each of these professions, how do you know which type of mental health professional you should see?

Well, it depends on what you need. The most clearly defined difference of all four scopes of practice is that of a psychiatrist, the only one in the field of mental health qualified to prescribe medication. This is why I cannot prescribe Xanax, even if you are really afraid to fly or of spending a few hours with your mother-in-law – because I am a Therapist, not a Psychiatrist.

psychiatrist versus psychologist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. The real differences start with the formal education received by each mental health professional. In the case of a psychiatrist, they are the stand-alone in the field of mental health to hold the title of a medical doctor. They must complete a Ph.D. program, as well as a residency program in psychiatry.

So, if a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, why is a psychologist called a doctor as well?

Great question. The “medical” piece is the key difference. While both professionals do complete Ph.D. programs and can rightfully and respectfully be referred to with their honorific doctoral titles, the psychologist cannot prescribe medications. It’s the extra four years of hands-on training as a resident that gives the psychiatrist this extra authority over the psychologist.

education for mental health professionalsAs far as everyday practice goes, the roles tend to switch. Psychologists take more of a hands-on approach than psychiatrists. Where psychiatrists are more clinical and diagnostic, psychologists take more of a talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral approach.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists can diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychologists evaluate a person’s mental health through regularly scheduled appointments, questions, tests, and interviews. Psychiatrists monitor medication responses both physically and mentally – also at regularly scheduled appointments.

Ok, so then what is the difference between counselors and therapists?

Counselors and therapists, depending on who you ask, are perhaps the most similar and interchangeable terms. Again, the main differences falling in the education and training required. A counselor or therapist would rarely hold a Ph.D. in any psychological related field. Typically, counselors and therapists hold bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in their areas of practice, which can vary greatly.

To sum up one article I found on Psychology Today, the term therapist can be applied to those with a master’s
degree and counselor to those with a bachelor’s degree or lower. The article does clarify that this is not a hard and fast rule and often depends on state laws or even personal preference. In California, for example, a counselor is not protected under state licensure requirements to operate as a mental health professional, but therapists are.

counseling Phoenix

Many counselors or therapists have extensive training in one or two specific areas of practice, while others have training in several. Some specific areas are grief, substance abuse, marriage, family, trauma, chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, or children and teens.

If you’re still not sure where to start, consider making an appointment with a Claibourne therapist.

Our team is comprised of Master’s level licensed counselors – aka therapists.
The most important thing to understand when it comes to your mental health is that finding someone to talk to who understands you and with whom you feel comfortable is all that matters. I will not sugarcoat anything and say that everything is all sunshine and roses once you take that first step. It can be hard, but having someone in your corner who is trained and experienced to advocate alongside you makes all the difference.

free consultation counseling scottsdale

Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and we can help determine the best person for you to speak with to start your journey to a happier, healthier you.

Sending you light and love, 
Claire

~ You are worthy. You are capable. You are enough! ~