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Types of mental health professions
20 Oct 2021
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Clinical Psychologist
Counseling psychologist

Unhappiness has increased among people. Life satisfaction has decreased among people and now there is a drastic increase in the awareness for caring for one’s mental health. People have started to reach out to mental health professionals but while approaching them they face this very common problem to which one to choose. 

There are a lot of mental health practitioners to help you with your problems so this article will help you in assisting the right one for you. As it can be confusing because there is a long list of professionals out of which you have to choose one for yourself. 

Find the right mental health professional for yourself. Here is a description of the difference between the most common ones that you have heard of. Because mental health is a broad and complex thing, and that’s why different professionals specialize in different parts for our ease.


 A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing “voices”. They may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift or problems functioning, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.

 Psychiatrists usually focus on prescribing medicine and in some cases, it is mandatory but not in others. I personally have seen a lot of cases in which these medications were even misused so if you think that the problem is too severe and needs medical attention also only then one should go to a psychiatrist. But if the problem can be solved by therapies or needs assessment. Then going to a psychologist is a better option.


 Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have an MBBS degree, and then a master’s degree with a specialization in psychiatry ( MD degree). A Psychiatrist is the only mental health professional who will prescribe medicine so if you need some drastic and immediate changes in life, you should go to a psychiatrist. If you can’t sleep or have difficulty eating or have any other psychotic symptoms then a psychiatrist is the right person for you. 


 A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional. They highly specialize in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional illnesses. Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medications to treat mental illness. Rather, they use psychological techniques and have RCI registration for practicing. Being fully trained for severe cases of psychological problems so they can handle them with all the interventions except medicine. So if you are someone who prefers being treated without medicine, should choose a psychologist.

They are trained in primary care centers or medical centers with giving patients proper inpatient treatment for their concerns so they are better at dealing with more severe cases.


 A Clinical Psychologist has a master’s degree (M.A.) and an M.Phil in clinical psychology which is both for 2 years. M.Phil includes practice entirely but no theory which makes them have more practice in the field. A Clinical Psychologist also cannot prescribe medications but works with or under a psychiatrist. So they can easily work with cases that are more diverse.


Counseling psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty in professional psychology. It focuses on how people function both personally and as well as in their relationships at all ages. Counseling psychology addresses emotional, social, work, school, and physical health concerns. People may have various concerns at stages in their lives, focusing on typical life stresses and more severe issues with which people may struggle as individuals and as a part of families, groups, and organizations. 

Counseling psychologists help people with physical, emotional, and mental health issues as they improve their sense of well‐being, alleviate feelings of distress, and resolve crises. They also provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of more severe psychological symptoms because they want to use the proper psychometric tools available. 


 A Counselling Psychologist has a master’s degree in Psychology (M.A).


Psychotherapists are similar to counseling psychologists and the two can overlap. Psychotherapy is deeper and addresses the underlying causes of the problems, as well as helps the person solve them. The different mental health professionals can have different licenses in their respective fields of work and interests. They can be, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health nurse practitioners. ‘

Psychotherapy can be helpful in a number of problems. It usually aims at understanding the person at a very deep level which goes back to childhood as well.


 A therapist is a broad designation that refers to professionals who are trained to provide treatment and rehabilitation. The term is often applied to psychologists, but it can include others who provide a variety of services, including social workers, counselors, life coaches, and many others. There are different types of therapists having different specializations. 

  • Art therapists
  • Child therapists 
  • Marriage and family therapists 
  • Music therapists 
  • Occupational therapists 
  • Psychotherapist 
  • Yoga therapist 

And the list goes on….

These are therapists who are trained specifically in these fields which can help you.


 A counselor is a very broad term and does not cover only mental health professionals but also other professions too. In the field of mental health, a counselor is a person who uses “Talk Therapy”. Counselors can also be a person who is psychologists, counseling psychologists, etc.

So now you know the difference between them all. Before you start your therapy, ask your professional about their specializations which will give you more clarity.

Well, reading the above descriptions of the working professionals. It might still be a little confusing for you as you might not find a huge difference between what they all practice but in the same place it is a good thing that we have so many options to choose from. 

In these descriptions, you should be able to figure out which one would work for you and would bring out the best results. 

Ravneet Kahlon, Counseling Psychologist

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