Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor – Is There Any Difference?

Making the decision to seek counselling is difficult enough but it is often made more complicated by a variety of industry terms and jargon. An often asked question by people who have decided to speak to the drug counsellors in Kent is that of the difference, if any, between a psychologist, a counsellor and a psychiatrist. Up and down the country, service providers are offering their advice and services under one of these three headers, is there any difference from one to the next?

Well, there is indeed a difference between these three terms and is an important difference at that. And to make things even trickier to digest, it’s completely possible for any given professional to combine as many of these three professions as they wish or to specialise in only one of them.

To clarify who does that and who it is you might wish to approach, here is a short overview of all three:

The Psychiatrist

First up, the psychiatrist provides a variety of helpful services on the subjects of mental health and mental disorders. What is special about the psychiatrist is that in order to be able to practise legally as a psychiatrist, an individual must be formally educated and trained as a doctor in order to then specialise in psychiatry. Regarding what it is they do, psychiatrists study mental disorders, diagnose such disorders in patients, put together and implement treatment programs that manage mental disorders and work towards preventing them. There is a variety of examples of more specialised areas of psychiatry, which vary from old age psychiatry to child psychiatry to forensic psychiatry and many more.

The Psychologist

Very often confused with the psychiatrist, the psychologist is in fact a very different profession entirely. Whereas psychiatrists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, psychologists work in the field of studying the mind regarding the way people think, act and behave. Of course, very often there is a lot of overlap between the two professions as much of what is involved in studying human thinking and behaviour relates closely to many mental health conditions. In terms of experience and qualifications, more often than not psychologists train exclusively and have a degree in the subject in order to be able to practise legally.

The Counsellor

Rounding off, counsellors provide a crucially important yet very different range of services than the other two professionals. Rather than studying mental health cases, counsellors instead focus on overcoming difficulties their clients experience and on their general advancement by exploring and instilling a better understanding of emotions, feelings and the respective behaviours. Putting together and implementing mental health treatment programs in the above two examples could be extremely difficult and hard-fought to say the least. In the instance of the counsellor, there are so many cases in which just speaking to a counsellor and discussing any problems could in its own right be both the diagnosis and the treatment all rolled into one. In the case of the counsellor, British law doesn’t presently state that any specific education, qualifications or training are required in order for a person to provide services as a counsellor. Nonetheless, the industry’s most capable and respected professionals usually boast impressive professional backgrounds, which should be sought by patients in the interest of an agreeable outcome.

Vetting the Vendors

No matter which one of the three professionals you need, it’s of equal importance to dedicate as much time and effort as required in vetting the available service providers. Just as is the case across every line of work, approaches and standards vary greatly from one provider to the next.

While a quick resolution will always be vey desirable, hurrying a decision with no sufficient prior investigation and thought is not recommended. Use all the information available on the Internet including comments, thoughts and recommendations of other people to help guide your decision-making process in the right direction.