The mental health field has different occupations within it, and some of them can lead to confusion on what type of professional they should seek out. This article will cover the differences between some of the most common mental health professionals by providing definitions for them so that you can decide which one is right for you.


A professional counselor is someone who is trained to help clients find solutions to the problems they might be having. Counselors can be found in all types of communities, like at schools, workplaces, hospitals, clinics, and therefore, can have experience with tackling different problems, like dealing with life transitions, stress, and other mental health issues.

Counseling can be provided one-on-one, or it can be in group settings, and the effectiveness of this largely depends on the clients and their personal goals.


A psychotherapist, or therapist for short, shares a lot in common with counselors in that they can help people overcome a variety of issues. In fact, they might be used interchangeably in some cases; however, the main difference can lie with their training, credentials, and how they treat these problems.

Therapists have a wide array of techniques to address specific concerns, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, applied behavior analysis, and art therapy. Because of this, you are likely to find therapists who specialize in a specific area of focus, like family and relationship issues or coping with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.


A psychologist is someone who has received a doctorate in psychology – either a Ph.D. or a PsyD. Many psychologists are trained to provide psychotherapy, but not all therapists are psychologists. Additionally, some psychologists don’t practice therapy at all and will instead, focus on academics and research in order to further our understanding of the field.

Nonetheless, if you are looking for treatment, there is a good chance you’ll either encounter a professional with a psychology doctorate degree or they will have licenses that qualify them to practice counseling and therapy, such as an LMFT or LCSW.


The profession that gets the most confusion among all of the others is psychiatry, and psychiatrists have a much more distinct role in the field than the others. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in treating mental health disorders by prescribing medication.

Most psychiatrists do not practice therapy, but some can if they have the credentials and training to do so. Similarly, counselors, therapists, and psychologists are unable to prescribe medication because they don’t practice medicine, despite working in clinical settings.

Which One Is Right For You?

In most cases, a counselor or therapist will be recommended to patients who are having a hard time coping with stress and other concerns, and as mentioned before, many psychologists are also able to provide this type of assistance.

However, psychiatrists may also get involved if you are dealing with chronic mental health issues and they can prescribe you medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms. In this situation, you will still work with a counselor or therapist to learn the healthy coping skills you need to overcome the problems that you are facing, while also meeting with your doctor or psychiatrist to manage your medication.

While you will need to make an appointment to get medication, finding a counselor, therapist, or psychologist is much easier, especially with online services. MyTherapist lets you connect to licensed professionals from the aforementioned fields and interact with them online through a variety of communication options. You can also take advantage of free advice found at


Hopefully this article has cleared up some of the confusion you may have had surrounding these common mental health occupations by understanding the similarities and differences between them. Importantly, this knowledge will help you know what to expect from the professionals who you might work with in the future so that you can receive the best treatment for you.


Marie Miguel Biography 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.