What is the Difference Between Mental Health Professionals?

Difference Between Mental Health Professionals

The term “mental health professional” can refer to various practitioners, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors. While all these professionals work with clients to improve mental health and well-being, they have important distinctions. Here, we will explore the different roles that mental health professionals play to help you decide which type of practitioner is right for you.

The difference between mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists and their fees depends on their educational qualifications and professional expertise. You can get proper knowledge about these three practitioners from the following article.

Difference Between Mental Health Professionals:


The psychiatrists have primarily trained as medical practitioners and then pursued further studies in mental health. To specify mental illness and prescribe medicine, a psychiatrist uses DSM-5 or ICD-10. A psychiatrist is a registered medical practitioner.

The word ‘psychiatry’ also stems from the Greek word ‘psyche’ combined with ‘iatry,’ which means ‘medical treatment’ = medical treatment of life.


Psychologists have primarily been trained in the science of behavior. They are most interested in understanding human behavior and generally conduct research, perform testing, assess, and design interventions to treat a full range of emotional and psychological challenges. To be able to practice as a psychologist, you must have completed the four year Honors and two year Master’s degree with practical experience in counseling.

The word ‘psychology’ comes from the Greek word ‘psyche,’ originally meaning ‘life’ or ‘soul,’ combined with ‘logy,’ originally meaning ‘to study’ = study of life.


Counselors/ psychotherapists are the only specialists who have primarily been trained in methods for listening and responding to people’s problems. They may have studied any number of different therapies, including person-centered counseling, solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, or narrative therapy, among others. There are now apparently over 400 different types of theoretical orientations and techniques worldwide. You can learn more about psychotherapy from this link.

online psychological counseling

What is psychotherapy?

Traditionally, psychotherapy (or therapy) focuses on severe psychological, internal, and personal issues and conflicts. It dealt with the “recovery of ade­quacy” (Casey, 1996, p. 175). As such, psychotherapy, especially analytically based ther­apy, emphasizes

(a) The past more than the present

(b) Insight more than change

(c) The detachment of the therapist and

(d) The therapist’s role as an expert

In addition, psy­chotherapy involved a long-term relationship (20 to 40 sessions over a pe­riod of 6 months to 2 years) that focused on reconstructive change as a short-term relationship (8 to 12 sessions spread over a period ‘of less than 6 months).

Psy­chotherapy was also viewed as being provided more through inpatient settings (residen­tial treatment facilities such as mental hospitals) than outpatient settings (non-­residential buildings such as community agencies).

However, in more modern times, the distinction between psychotherapy and coun­seling has blurred, and professionals who provide clinical services often determine whether: clients receive counseling or psychotherapy.

Some counseling theories are commonly re­ferred to as therapies and can be used in either counseling or therapy settings. Therefore, the similarities in the counseling and psychotherapy processes often overlap.

What is Counseling?

The term counseling has eluded definition for years. However, the Governing Council of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the most prominent guest professional organization rep­resenting counselors, accessed a description of professional counseling practice in October 1997 (Smith, 2001). According to the ACA, the method of professional coun­seling is:

Counseling is a way to apply mental health, psychological, or individual development principles through cognitive, affective, behavioral, or systemic interventions, and strategies that address wellness, personal growth, career development, and pathology.

This definition contains several keywords:

  • Counseling works for wellness, individual growth, career, and acute psychological issues.
    In other words, counselors work in areas that involve relationships (Casey, l996). These areas contain Intra and interpersonal issues that indicate meaning and adjustment in such settings as families, professionals, and schools.
  • Counseling is conducted with an individual who has an insight into execution well. Clients are seen by counselors who have developmental situations. Their problems of­ten require short-term intervention, but occasionally treatment may be extended to encompass disorders included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013) of the American Psychiatric Association.

Counseling fees:

East Queensland Counseling & Psychology, located in Palm Beach and Southport, charges $130 per hour for individual psychology sessions and $160 per hour for couples counseling. If your doctor has given you a mental health care plan, Medicare will pay for $84.80 of the total cost, and you will need to pay a ‘gap’ fee of $45.80 on the day of your appointment. If you are on a low income or receiving a Centrelink benefit, there will be a gap fee of $20. This fee also depends on the country’s economic condition, counselor qualification, and experience.

Many counselors have no personal registration number but provide counseling or psychotherapy. Also, they may have the proper qualification for giving counseling.

However, many have been to university to study counseling and hold as many, if not more, qualifications in working directly with people as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Before booking a counselor, you can collect information about the experience and educational qualifications of the counselor.

You can watch a quick and basic outline of the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist from the below articles.

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