What is the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a therapist?

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists a psychiatrist is a medically-qualified practitioner who will have spent 5-6 years training as a doctor. He or she will then have worked as a doctor in general medicine and surgery for at least a year and will then have had at least 6 years of further training in helping people with psychological problems. They will be qualified to recommend medication, devise programmes, conduct therapy and undertake consultations with patients.

Clinical psychologists work with clients of all ages on a variety of different mental or physical health problems. They assess a client’s needs, abilities or behaviour using a variety of methods, including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour and devise a programme of treatment, including therapy, counselling or advice, in collaboration with colleagues. They are qualified to a university degree level.

“Therapist”  or “Counsellor” are generic terms that apply to mental health professionals undertaking face to face meetings with patients.

In general both psychiatrists and psychologists work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside general practitioners, nurses, social workers, education professionals, health visitors and occupational therapists.

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