What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Counsellor, a Psychotherapist, a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

What's the Difference Between a Coach a Counsellor a Psychotherapist a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist

If you have mental health concerns, deciding to seek a therapist can be one of the best decisions. But therapy is an umbrella term that holds several types and procedures. People are often perplexed by the different keywords they come across.

First, there’s a psychologist, then a psychiatrist, then a psychotherapist, a coach, and finally a counselor. If you’re starting, you may think that these are different terms for the same person. However, that’s not the case.

Although all of these professionals indeed deal with psychological concerns. But, each of them has specific expertise in what they deal with and how they perform their job. The following article will discuss this difference in detail.

What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Counsellor, a Psychotherapist, a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?


Starting with the most common term, a psychologist specializes in assessing and treating mental health disorders through non-pharmaceutical means. In simple terms, psychologists cannot prescribe you medications. As psychologists do not deal with drugs, they don’t attend medical school. Instead, they participate in graduate school for 5-8 years and get a doctorate such as Ph.D. Not all psychologists are psychotherapists, but psychotherapists can be psychologists as well.

A psychologist helps you overcome your thinking issues with interventions such as talk therapies or Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT). They look at how we think and how our mind works. A psychologist works on your thought patterns and everyday behaviors. They help you identify the motivations behind your experiences. They suggest different coping mechanisms and thinking techniques that can help you overcome your problems. They help you think in better ways so you can deal with your life’s issues effectively. If you have mild anxiety or depression and want to seek treatment without medications, then a psychologist is the right therapist for you.


A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor. They are the ones who can prescribe you medications such as relaxants or antidepressants. What differentiates a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that only psychiatrists can prescribe medications. They specialize in internal medicine, neurology, and pediatrics so they can be aware of how our body works. Psychiatrists attend medical school for four years and then spend an additional four years, especially training in psychiatry.

Although psychotherapists are sole medical practitioners and their work, include mostly prescribing medications. But some can also help you with evidence-based psychotherapies as well as CBT. If you have a severe mental health disorder or have been advised by some mental health professional to get medications, you should go to a psychiatrist.


Psychotherapy is a broad term that includes both talking therapies and other approaches to help a client overcome their concerns. A psychotherapist focuses on treating a wide range of emotional difficulties and psychiatric disorders. They work on developing a good relationship with a client and help them assess all their problems. Psychotherapists also often work in combination with psychiatrists to deal with severe mental disorders. To be registered as a psychotherapist, you need a master’s degree in psychotherapy and a minimum of 450 hours of practice.

A psychologist and psychotherapist might seem similar, but they have their differences. A psychologist focuses mainly on what caused the problem while a psychotherapist focuses on providing solutions. Depending on their education, they can work with either individuals, groups, and families. Psychotherapists often have long-term relationships with their clients, where they have appointments every month for years. If you want to explore your past experiences, aspects of yourself, and what you can do to be better, you should go to a psychotherapist.


Counselors are not much different from psychotherapists. Similarly, they use psychotherapy to help a variety of clients. Counselors are often more niche-oriented. Counselors can specialize in relationships, drug abuse, school, child, individual, marriage, or other specific kinds of issues. Counselors work with clients in confidential and safe environments where they encourage clients to be open and honest with them. As for their qualification, there is no compulsory training required to be a counselor. They often follow a three-stage training route where they complete 12 weeks of introduction to counseling. Then they get a certificate in counseling, which takes one year. After that, their core practitioner training starts, which can be a minimum of diploma level training or can even extend to a graduate or postgraduate degree.

They listen to a client and help them identify different problematic parts of their life and how they can come up with better solutions on their own to life’s problems. Unlike psychotherapists, counselors may not have a long term relationship with their clients because they are more focused on short-term problem-solving. Both counselors and psychotherapists are tasked with understanding their clients, thinking, and helping them create more positive outcomes in their lives.


A coach is very different from all the professionals mentioned above. Coaches are not healthcare professionals. Instead, they help us clarify goals, identify obstacles, and create actionable plans to reach our goals. It focuses on action-based strategies that help you move forward in your desired field. Whether it be business, entrepreneurship, relationships, or anything else. Coaches do not need to have a specific educational degree to be called a professional coach.

Coaches often work in specific niches, such as business coaches, relationship coaches, etc. Psychotherapists help people understand their conscious and subconscious minds. And how a client can work on themselves to modify their behaviors and thought patterns. However, a life coach focuses on individual actions and results. Life coaches measure their client’s success with specific performance indicators and specific goals. In short, if you need someone that can help you set goals and provide a proper direction for particular purposes, you can contact a coach.


Reading this article will help you understand who is the right person you’re looking for. Even if you’re not sure, you can contact a psychotherapist and they can inform you what kind of specialist you need.

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