Psychologist Vs. Therapist: Definition And Differences

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 January 2023

Published 12 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Psychologists and therapists are mental health professionals who focus on improving their patients' mental health. Even though many people use both terms interchangeably, there can be a few fundamental differences in the duties of these job roles. Understanding the difference between psychologists and therapists can benefit candidates who want to pursue a career in mental and behavioural health. In this article, we explore major differences between a psychologist vs therapist, define these job roles and compare their average salaries.

What Does A Psychologist Do?

A psychologist is a health care professional who takes care of the mental health of their clients. They can train in multiple ways which enables them to work in any setting or condition. Many psychologists work in hospitals, schools, counselling centres and community organisations. There are various categories of psychologists such as clinical psychologists, general psychologists and counselling psychologists. These mental health professionals are well trained and may practice one or more types of methods to treat mental or physical disorders. Some psychologists also prefer to work in corporations, research settings or in schools as professors or doctoral programmes.

Related: How To Become A Psychologist: A Complete Guide (With Steps)

What Does A Therapist Do?

A therapist is a professional specialised in treating the mental health of their patients by reducing symptoms of mental illness using different approaches. They help their clients by improving their emotional skills to handle different life challenges. Therapists can serve as genuine individuals who provide guidance to help their patients handle various situations. Some therapists work in person with their patients, while some may work in clinical or consulting settings. Many therapists use techniques like talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to treat their patients.

Psychologist Vs Therapist

Understanding the differences between a psychologist vs therapist can be helpful to anyone interested in becoming a mental health care professional. There are many licensed health care professionals who use their expertise and skills to help patients improve their mental health and well-being. Here are some fundamental differences between psychologists and therapists:

Education

The educational qualifications required to become a psychologist can be different from that of therapists. Candidates who want to be psychologists can pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology. They can advance their careers by pursuing a master's degree in psychology. Here are some certifications that psychologists can gain:

  • Certificate in Guidance and Counselling

  • Psychology of Leadership

  • Certificate in Consumer Psychology and Advertising

  • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

Candidates who want to become a therapist can undertake a bachelor's degree that focuses on psychotherapy, stress management and personality development. Therapists can also advance their careers by pursuing a master's degree in occupational therapy, psychology, sociology or counselling. Here are some certifications that therapists can earn:

  • Certified Advanced Life Coach

  • Certificate in Stress Management

  • Certificate Program in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Certificate in Career Counselling

Read more: Different Types Of Psychologists And How To Become One

Duties and responsibilities

Job duties and responsibilities of both psychologists and therapists may vary depending on the type of organisation in which they work. Here are some job duties and responsibilities of psychologists:

  • Preparing assessments and recommendations for their patients

  • Treating mental, emotional and behavioural illness

  • Communicating with patients to observe and document behavioural patterns

  • Identifying symptoms and diagnosing mental health conditions

  • Performing psychology experiments and documenting the progress of patients

  • Collaborating with other health care professionals to treat patients

  • Developing mental health plans for each patient

  • Conducting behavioural counselling sessions

Daily responsibilities of therapists include:

  • Providing counselling and treatment to patients for their mental health conditions

  • Preparing treatment plans to meet the mental health goals of patients

  • Developing strong relationships with patients

  • Performing regular diagnostic mental health evaluations

  • Conducting therapy sessions to help patients overcome mental or behavioural challenges

  • Providing emotional support to patients and helping them confront unfavourable situations

  • Organising appointments and researching new treatment methods

Read more: What Does A Psychologist Do? A Comprehensive Guide

Job titles

Psychologists and therapists may also differ on the basis of job titles and specialities. Here are some common types of psychologist job titles:

  • Clinical psychologist: A clinical psychologist is responsible for diagnosing mental health conditions and creating treatment plans as they specialise in a specific area of psychology or mental health condition.

  • Neuropsychologist: A neuropsychologist focuses on the connection between human brains and human behaviour. They may study personalities, memories, emotions and attention.

  • Child psychologist: A child psychologist is responsible for treating mental health conditions in children. They may provide therapy sessions to children and their families.

Here are some specialities of therapists:

  • Behavioural therapist: A behavioural therapist provides counselling to patients facing behavioural conditions. They can study the behaviours and thought patterns of patients and use different therapy techniques to help them.

  • Marriage and family counsellor: These mental health professionals may work with couples or families and help them improve their relationships along with their mental health conditions.

  • Child therapist: A child therapist is responsible for providing counselling to children with behavioural and mental health conditions. They know how to communicate and work with children in the best possible manner.

Read more: How to Become A Forensic Psychologist: A Complete Guide

Salary

The average salaries of psychologists and therapists may differ from each other. The average salary of a psychologist is ₹19,402 per month. In comparison, the average salary of a therapist is ₹23,562 per month. Their salaries may vary depending on the type of organisation and their work experience. Psychologists and therapists working at the same location can also have different salaries. For example, the average salary of a psychologist in Pune, Maharashtra is ₹17,083 per month. The average salary of a therapist in Pune, Maharashtra is ₹29,223 per month.

What Are Some Essential Skills For Psychologists?

There are certain skills that can help psychologists to become better at their job and progress in their careers. Here are some essential skills for psychologists:

Critical thinking

Psychologists with good critical thinking skills can understand what their patients are going through. They can use their critical thinking to find effective ways to improve the mental health of patients. Psychologists may meet patients with different kinds of issues on a daily basis. Critical thinking can help them identify mental health issues and provide support to the patients.

Research skills

Psychologists with great research skills find the nature of the received information from their patients. The job responsibilities of psychologists may involve researching different types of documents and conducting experiments based on their individual research. Research skills can also help them analyse a certain amount of data for getting insights and use them further to treat patients.

Read more: How To Become A Social Labourer: Skills, Salary And Duties

Patience

Having patience can help psychologists understand the problems their patients are facing and provide emotional comfort to them. In the initial stages of a psychologist's job, patience can help professionals learn new skills and progress in their careers. Psychologists may also require waiting for a patient or a client. Patience can teach psychologists to wait for their patients and remain calm with them.

Each patient may require a different approach towards their treatment. Some patients can heal at a very fast pace, while some can take longer to recover completely. Patience allows psychologists to support their patients even in their lowest phase.

What Are Some Essential Skills For Therapists?

Here are some essential skills for therapists:

Active listening

Listening skills can allow therapists to actively listen to their patients and remember important feelings or symptoms they are conveying. It helps therapists to identify the root cause of the mental illness. Therapists with excellent listening and observational skills can also understand the things their patients are hiding. For example, a patient suffering from any traumatising incident may fear sharing everything.

Read more: Top 10 Courses After 12th Non-Medical For Science Students

Speaking skills

During the first few sessions with patients, good speaking skills can help a therapist develop great relationships with their patients. At the beginning of a session, patients may get uncomfortable while sharing their feelings. Experienced therapists with good speaking skills can make them comfortable even on a phone call.

Problem-solving skills

When therapists communicate with their patients, they try to research and find all the symptoms to get to the root cause of mental illness. Problem-solving skills can help therapists prepare effective treatment plans for a specific illness. Therapists can use their problem-solving skills to develop different treatment strategies.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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