What’s the difference between a therapist and a psychologist?

psychologist in her office

When you make the decision to take care of your mental health, everything can seem overwhelming. There are so many decisions to make that you may start to feel put off from seeking help at all. One of the first things you may come across is choosing between a therapist and a psychologist. 

To help make the decision a little easier for you, here are the differences and similarities between both types of mental health professionals. We’ve also included the best ways to tell which is right for you so you get the help you deserve.


Therapists and psychologists are both mental health specialists who can improve your emotional well-being, boost your mental health, and help you overcome behavior disorders. Whichever healthcare provider you choose, you’ll visit them regularly and discuss what’s going on in your life. They’ll listen to everything you say and provide you with professional advice to help you better understand your personal problems and how to overcome them.

Both therapists and psychologists have excellent outcomes when it comes to supporting people with mental health problems so they can improve the quality of their lives.


The primary differences between therapists and psychologists are their level of education and training, the way they approach patient treatment, and the authority they have to make mental health diagnoses. 

A therapist needs a master’s degree in psychotherapy as a minimum to practice legally, while a psychologist must have a doctorate-level degree in the field to practice legally.

One reason people get confused between therapists and psychologists is that the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Some psychologists with doctorate-level education refer to themselves as therapists or psychotherapists. Some therapists with master’s-level education in psychotherapy refer to themselves as counselors. 

What do they treat?

The best way to determine whether you should see a therapist or a psychologist is to consider the concerns you want to address. Psychologists, therapists, and counselors are all incredibly valuable to the mental health field and can help you in a number of different ways.

Both therapists and psychologists can effectively help you if you’re going through grief, a divorce, and marriage problems. They can also help you with general counseling, as well as specialist mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

Group therapy is something both therapists and psychologists usually offer. While some people prefer working one-to-one with a mental healthcare professional, others get more value from group therapy by connecting with other people going through the same things. 

Making an appointment with a psychologist is the best move if you know the changes you want to make to your behaviors and thought patterns. However, because there’s so much cross-over when it comes to education and training, many therapists can also help you make the changes you need to improve your life.

When it comes down to it, therapists and psychologists treat many of the same mental health issues. The only real difference between the two is the level of education. 


A psychologist is trained to do the following things:

  • Asses your mental health based on observation and reports
  • Research your condition and provide thought and behavior recommendations
  • Provide different types of therapy to improve your condition
  • Help you work through your feelings so you can better understand them
  • Connect with a psychiatrist to get you prescription treatments


A therapist is trained to do the following things:

  • Help you gain a better understanding of your life and mental health
  • Encourage you to discuss your feelings in a healthy way
  • Support you while you make healthy decisions
  • Use talk therapy to support you

Depending on the state, some therapists are also qualified to make some mental health diagnoses. If they can’t, many are able to refer you to another professional who can.

Which is best for you?

Whether a therapist or psychologist is best for you really comes down to one thing — the person behind the title. Therapists and psychologists have similar training and can help with a wide range of mental health and behavioral issues. The only thing that really matters is that you get on with the person providing you with support and you trust them with your mental well-being.

At Cyti Psychology, we list all our mental health experts so you can choose the person you think you’d be most comfortable with. You can see a photo of each individual and read a little bit about them before you begin your first session.

If you’re ready to get started, make your first appointment with a Cyti therapist today. We have many mental health experts waiting to help you overcome your problems and start living the life you deserve.

About the author: Krystie Hudson

Krystie’s favorite types of therapy to use with her clients are EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and SFT (Solution Focused Therapy).  She also incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Internal Family Systems with clients as needed.  She prefers to work with clients ages 14-100.  She is especially skilled with trauma and parenting problems/support, family issues.

Read more about Krystie here >>

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741