Therapist vs Psychiatrist vs Psychologist-2021

Today we all are leading busy & stressful life. We are supposed to play different social roles individually. From professional to personal life, we are overloaded with multitasking. These multi-tasks put stress and pressure on the psychology of us. Moreover, those multi-tasks make us confront different psychological issues. That’s why nowadays, we need to go to therapists and psychiatrists to take care of our mental health. However, we hardly know the role of them. Most of the time, it seems that therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists are the same persons and their roles are the same. But their role is different from each other.

In this article, I will strive to explain their role and make the differences among their roles.

Therapist, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist

Though the role of therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists are inextricably linked, their role is different from each other.

Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Main Role of Therapist and Psychologist:

First of all, a Therapist or psychotherapist specializes in the therapeutic medical treatment of psychological disorders to help people heal and ensure their better life without using medicines. They use psychological methods for helping patients come out of psychological problems.

A therapist does not give the patient or client any instruction. Rather s/he helps them to learn new skills to lead a better life. Mainly holding licenses, they help clients reduce the symptoms of mental illness and adapt to different challenges in life. S/he serves as an empathetic, supportive and non-judgemental guide who expands hands to uplift the people who have mental illness with professional skills and assist them in gaining maximum self.

By getting psychotherapy, the clients can identify their strengths and courage to combat negative and complex emotions, experiences and guide them in the right way. Therapists are not like sports coaches who give clients instructions. Instead of shouting directions, they help clients to make positive decisions and empower them to cope with issues surrounding themselves.

Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Main Role of Psychiatrist:

On the other hand, a psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who deals with medical illness. Simply and precisely, s/he is a doctor who diagnoses and treats mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

Wielding special training in psychiatry s/he engages in diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of insanity or any kind of psychological disorder. Despite having specialty in a certain area, psychiatrists use to function in a multidisciplinary team consisting of clinical psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and nursing staff.

Sometimes people stay ill for a long time because of mental issues. Psychiatrists try to determine actual reasons for their sickness from both psychological and physical perspectives.

They strive to determine these signs of illness as the result of physical illness or the alignment of physical & psychological illness or psychological issues. That means they are directly involved in the clinical side. They have a deep insight into physical and mental health – and how they affect each other. They deal with people who are affected by different mental health issues such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and addiction.

Moreover, they can also suggest medicine or medication for curbing mental issues, unlike psychotherapists. Besides, psychiatrists also provide brain stimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy. Even unlike therapists, they provide advice about lifestyle changes that help the patients with both short-term and long-term mental health conditions.

What is a Psychologist?

Again, the term Psychologist simply refers to a specialist in psychology or the study of mind and human behavior. Generally, psychologists strive to determine the interconnection between human behavior and the environment.

That means they try to explain why people behave in a certain way in a certain environment. They have enough skills and knowledge to conduct psychological research and testing. They are directly engaged in evaluating and studying human behavior and the mental process. We can differentiate them into two aspects: Clinical psychologists and social or organizational psychologists.

The functions of clinical & counseling psychologists are almost similar to the functions of therapists. They provide mental health care to people. They deal with patients within various therapeutic contexts and, most of the time, use talk therapy to help patients. That’s why they act like therapists to their patients.

On the other hand, social & organizational psychologists conduct research and deliver consultative service. Moreover, they apply psychological research, theories, and techniques to “real-world” problems, questions, and business, industry, or government issues.

Differences Among the Therapist, Psychiatrist, and Psychologist 

These three following concepts are separate professions in the field of psychology. From the above discussion, it is clear that there are immense differences among the roles of therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

Though many people use those terms interchangeably, each of the professions holds a unique and significant part in healing psychological issues confronted by people worldwide.

Sometimes people of the three professions work together to evaluate and diagnose mental disorders and strive to provide the best mental health care so that affected people can get rid of these mental issues and lead a truly healthy life.

After determining the disorders, people can decide who can help them and bring back normal & healthier life.

Here, I am going to use a chart to highlight the differences among the three following concepts:

Therapists Psychiatrists Psychologists
They are specialized in the medical treatment for psychological disorders. The prime area of therapists is different types of therapy. They have specialization in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of psychological aspects of patients. Diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders are the prime concern of psychiatrists. They have special knowledge of the study of human behavior and mental process. Their main concern includes emotional and cognitive processes as well as how people interact with their surroundings.
Therapists are not medical doctors. They provide their clients with different therapies and help them learn different skills to handle combat challenges in life. Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They diagnose illness from both physical and psychological perspectives and strive to find out the reason for illness due to physical or psychological or both reasons. Like therapists, psychologists are not medical doctors. They study human behavior and their interaction with the environment.
Therapists deal with the psychological and social aspects of their clients. Psychiatrists deal with both the physical and mental aspects of their patients. They strive to find out the link between mental and physical problems. They deal with severe chronic mental disorders like severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Psychologists only deal with the mental aspect – how the human brain works, emotions, feelings, and thoughts, including behavioral problems, learning difficulties, depression, anxiety, etc.
They use play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, animal-assisted therapy, dialectal behavioral therapy, and many others. They also provide mental health diagnoses and develop a treatment plan. Psychiatrists may suggest various treatments like medication, general medical care, psychological treatment, brain stimulation therapies for healing complex and serious mental illness. Even they might refer a patient to a psychologist or therapist for additional counseling or therapy. Clinical psychologists generally use talk therapy or counseling to help handle personal stress, addictions or manage chronic psychological illnesses.
They need to attain a Master’s degree and license of approval for conduction their tasks. After attaining a medical degree from a university, they receive at least 1/2 years of training as a medical practitioner. Then they receive training on diagnosis and treatment of mental illness for 5 years. So psychiatrists take almost 11 years to complete training. They take almost 6 years to complete a university degree. Then they attain Masters & Doctorate degree in psychology. However, clinical psychologists need special training on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
Therapists are to deal with their clients for the long term. Likewise, due to evaluate both physical and mental aspects and sometimes provide treatment for a chronic psychological disorder, psychiatrists need to deal with patients for the long term. As counseling is a short-term service, psychologists may maintain short-term relationships with their clients.
The major field of study in counseling and social work. The major field of study is medication and Tomography. The major field of study is Clinical and Research Psychology.
 The therapist is a more holistic concept, as it includes social life. It includes psychotherapy, marriage counseling, social work, etc. They diagnose chronic mental disorders and provide medication, therapy, and other treatment. Besides diagnosing mental disorders, phycologists are in tandem with psychiatrists.
Therapists may work in offices, treatment centers, and group homes. Psychiatrists may work at hospitals, University medical centers, rehabilitation programs, nursing homes, hospice programs, etc. Psychologists work in the same place as psychiatrists.
They cannot recommend medication, but they can refer clients for medication or other treatment. Only psychiatrists can recommend medication for patients. Like therapists, instead of recommending medication, psychologists may refer their clients for medication.


These three professions in the field of psychology are different from one another. However, they are inextricably related to each other. Because all of the professions give guidance and support to clients and patients. All of them strive to make people get rid of all kinds of psychological issues to face the challenges and hurdles of the ongoing complex life and lead a genuine healthy life because a healthy life is dependent on both physical and mental health.

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