Home Discussion Forum Whats the difference between psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists?

Whats the difference between psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists?

Which is the best mental health doctor to speak to. I know psychiatrists perscribe medication and the other two do not. A freind of mine goes to a psychotherapist and I attended a session. It was similar to a psychologist. Another friend goes to a psychologist? So which is better to help with life problems?
Please don’t answer the question relating therapy to social workers as they are not therapists.


  1. Psychiatrist: medical doctor
    Psychologist: Ph.D.
    Psychotherapist: someone certified to conduct therapy, but they usually just have a master’s degree.

  2. I’ve been wondering this same thing for years. I went to a psychotherapist about 8 years ago. It was just like a session with a psychiatrist. I’m not sure of the difference,

  3. Psychologist is the general name for any person who practices the study of the mind. They could talk to clients, or be research psychologists, or professors of phychology. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists are two different groups of practicing psychologists. (But I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference)

  4. This is an impossible question. The “real” difference is in the degree that the doctor/therapist possesses. A psychiatrist is an MD or DO and can prescribe medications. Medications without counselling are a waste, though, so a good psyschiatrist will offer counselling or work closely with another therapist. A psychiatrist is generally a Ph.D. and a psychotherapist is generally an M.S.W. or a nurse with any number of various degrees. Either one would have specialty training in psychiatric counselling.
    Some argue that the non-MD’s are better, because they are forced to get to the root of the problem by virtue of the fact that they can NOT prescribe medications. Just a thought.

  5. A psychiatrist is an MD and can Rx. A psychotherapist can be either who has been analyzed himself. A clinical psychologist is usually a PhD. If you need medication, the choice is obvious. If you just need talk and support, either will do. The important thing is your empathy with the person.

  6. Who cares? Everything is a business now a days! The best advise is given by your friends and family. Don’t waste your money!

  7. It really depends on your individual needs. If you just need someone to listen and guide you, try either a psychologist or a CSW (Certified Social Worker) they also function as therapists. If you feel you need medication go to the Psychiatrist – they’re medical doctors who can prescribe.


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