The Differences Between Counsellors, Psychologists & Psychiatrists

The Differences Between Counsellors, Psychologists & Psychiatrists

This post was most recently updated on May 18th, 2023

When it comes to mental health issues, navigating the world of therapists can be overwhelming. There’s so much to consider when it comes to finding the right professional for your needs—so how do you know who to turn to? To help you make the best decision for your situation, let’s take a closer look at what sets counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists apart from one another.

With so many types of mental health professionals available, it can be difficult to know who to turn to for help. Do you need a therapist or psychologist? A counsellor or psychiatrist? All these terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important distinctions between them that should be understood. Let’s take a look at the differences between counselling, psychology, and psychiatry.


A counsellor is qualified in talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other forms of counselling. They will guide you through personal problems and issues which are having an impact upon your wellbeing. A counsellor will also help you develop coping strategies, enabling you to find ways of dealing with difficult situations that arise in life. From a legal standpoint, counsellors must have obtained qualifications at Level 3 or higher in order to practise legally in the UK.

Counselling is a type of therapy that focuses on helping people cope with life’s challenges. It is usually conducted on an individual basis with a trained counsellor or therapist. Counselling sessions typically last about 50 minutes and involve talking through personal issues in a safe and supportive setting. During counselling sessions, the counsellor will help the person identify their goals and provide support as they work towards those goals.

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Psychologists use scientific methods such as psychological testing and interviews to understand behaviour and mental processes. They may specialise in areas such as clinical or educational psychology. As they offer insights on both normal and abnormal behaviour, they help people understand why people act in certain ways, helping them make changes where necessary. Generally speaking, psychologists will hold either an MSc or PhD qualification; however some may hold a master’s degree which focuses on psychotherapy or counselling instead.

Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. Psychologists study how people think, feel, act and interact with one another in order to better understand human behaviour. Psychologists may use therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in order to treat mental illness. However, psychologists cannot prescribe medication as this requires a medical doctor (MD).


When it comes to counselling and psychology vs psychiatry, unlike psychologists and counsellors, psychiatrists are medically trained professionals who prescribe medications like antidepressants if needed. Generally speaking most psychiatrists are focused more on diagnosing severe mental illnesses like depression rather than providing therapy services; however some may provide both depending on their practice area.

A psychiatrist is usually required if medication is deemed necessary for recovery from a mental health issue; however this should always be discussed with your GP first prior to consenting to any prescription drugs being administered by a psychiatrist. 

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Unlike psychologists or counsellors, psychiatrists have undergone medical training and can prescribe drugs such as antidepressants or sleep aids if necessary. Psychiatrists may also provide psychotherapy but this is usually done in collaboration with a psychologist or counsellor to ensure comprehensive treatment for the patient’s condition. 

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When it comes down to choosing between a counsellor, psychologist and psychiatrist for your needs it’s important that you take into account not only their qualifications but also the type of service they offer that best suits your individual needs too. If you’re looking for someone who can provide therapeutic guidance then a counsellor may be your best option; however if medication is needed then consulting with a psychiatrist would be the next logical step forward after getting approval from your GP first.

Ultimately when deciding between these three types of professionals it’s important that you take time to research each one thoroughly before making any decisions regarding treatment options available. That way you can ensure that whatever path you choose is going to be helpful not only now but also in the long-term too.

Whether you’re looking for help with counselling relationships issues or seeking treatment for depression or anxiety, it’s important to understand the differences between counselling, psychology and psychiatry so that you can make an informed decision about which professional is right for you. Whether you’re looking for a qualified therapist in Newcastle or any other major city in the UK, they’ll be able to offer guidance on which type of treatment is best suited to your needs, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re unsure which direction to go in.

Sikander Zaman
writing is my profession, doing this from long time. writing for many online websites one of them is scoopearth