Differences between Psychotherapists, Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Who is a Psychiatrist and what do they do?

Psychiatrists are professionals with an MBBS and an MD in Psychiatry.

A Psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who can prescribe medication to treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists work with patients on a biological and psychological level. They look at factors like past traumas, family history and can offer advice on how to move forward. Though Psychiatrists do Therapy sometimes, it is a rare practice in India.

Who is a Psychologist and what do they do?

A Psychologist is a trained individual who has a variety of functions. S/he can’t prescribe medication but is professionally trained to deal with mental illnesses. Psychologists diagnose clients using various psychologically sound tests and do therapy to bring about change in their clients. Psychologists can cover a range of topics through their research or practice, and this can include mental health issues, developmental disorders and relationship stress.

Who is a Psychotherapist and what do they do?

A Psychotherapist is a super specialised psychologist who concentrates on one form of psychotherapy and is thoroughly trained in it. This can range from career counselling, marriage counselling, family therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, rational emotive cognitive behaviour therapy etc.

Professional Qualifications


A psychiatrist holds an MBBS with an MD in Psychiatry.


A Psychologist should hold an MA in the particular subfield of psychology.

For Clinical Psychology, s/he should hold an M.Phil in Clinical Psychology.


A Psychotherapist should hold a Specialised Certification from a recognised Therapy Institute.

When Should You Visit Whom?

The first step of identifying a mental indifference is to visit a psychologist. A psychologist will identify your indifference and help you accordingly. If the diagnosis states that your mental health needs a clinical supervision, then psychiatric intervention, i.e, psychiatrist prescribed medication is introduced along with regular therapy.

What Else Should I Know?

The practice of Psychologists and Psychotherapists is not limited to the clinical disorders of psychology unlike that of Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists only prescribe medication for mental illness and perform no therapy unlike the other two. Psychologists and Psychotherapists do not necessarily treat clinical mental health. They treat also help dealing with relationships, marriage, parenting, career and life- fields that are not related to the human body clinically.

A therapist helps you identify your problems and possible solutions and empowers you to take steps to resolve your problems. There is no force and no opinionated judgement, it is a free space where you choose your own ways.

If done professionally, therapy has NO SIDE EFFECTS.

What Should I Be Aware Of? Malpractices in the field of Psychology

People have an eclectic approach to therapy and not a specialised approach.

Some people don’t get a specialised training in a specific form of therapy and especially in India, they start practicing Psychology right after their M.A without any specialisation.

These people use those therapies in ineffective manners which slanders the very purpose of Psychology and leads to the general public losing their trust in therapy and other psychological practices.

The most important thing to keep in mind whenever you go for psychotherapy is to make sure that your psychologist is well trained in a specific form of therapy, with an authentic certification and not just a Master’s degree.

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