Types of Therapists

Updated: May 19

Pros and Cons


It can be extremely confusing when trying to find the best mental health specialist to assist you along your healing journey. It can also be hazardous when dealing with complex mental health issues if we select a specific type of therapist who is not properly trained or qualified.


Different types of therapists have different training and accreditations, along with specific governing and regulating bodies depending on the Province, State or Country they practice in.


In this article, we will focus on:


· Licensed Psychologists

· Registered Psychotherapists

· Professional Social Workers

· Counsellors

· Addictions Counsellors


Many of these terms are often used interchangeably, but there are very distinctive differences.


Licensed Psychologists

Psychologists are trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling, and behaviour. They are uniquely trained to use psychological tests to help with assessment and diagnosis. Psychologists help people overcome or manage their problems using a variety of treatments or psychotherapies.


Psychologists are generally Ph.D. graduates, although some Provinces in Canada accept a master’s degree.


Registered Social Workers

Social work is a broad profession, but some social workers focus their education and experience on clinical assessment and treatment.


Registered social workers can offer psychotherapy but look for credentials like MSW, or BSW, so you know that they have completed their studies with a degree from an academic institution.


MSWs can treat the same as a psychotherapist and psychologists. Like psychologists, they are considered medical professionals and can have an increased scope of practice.


Registered Psychotherapist

A Registered Psychotherapist is an individual who is trained and licensed to provide psychotherapy. They have completed the necessary training and supervision recognized by their Province of residence.


Psychotherapy is defined as the use of psychological methods to resolve or lessen behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions that have become disruptive. A good psychotherapist will be proficient in practicing evidence-based therapies for treating diagnosed mental disorders. These include cognitive and behavioural therapies, talk therapy, experiential therapies, and somatic therapies such as ISTDP, to name a few.


Registered Psychotherapists work with individuals, couples, and families in individual and group settings. They treat diagnosable mental health issues such as:


· Anxiety disorders

· Mood disorders

· Addictions

· Personality disorders

· Trauma


A psychotherapist should have at least a master’s degree with experience in treating mental disorders. When working with a Registered Psychotherapist, you can expect to receive a highly trained and qualified professional who will work with you on a variety of more complex mental health concerns.


Counsellors

Clinical Counsellors generally have a master's degree and are under the auspices of different governing bodies. Some types of counsellors do not require the same education standards as Psychologists, Psychotherapists, or Social Workers. They can have various life experiences that they draw from in their practice and can be helpful for support work but cannot access the advanced training that the others do to "treat" complex disorders.


Typically, a counselor helps with present-day problems that may be affecting your overall mental health and well-being. However, they may not go as deeply into issues or trauma as a registered psychotherapist.


They can be helpful in assisting with:

· family problems

· relationship issues

· struggles with anger

· low self-esteem

· loss or grief


Addictions Counsellors:

Addictions counsellors work with clients on understanding treatment and aid with relapse prevention and crisis management. They can help you explore why the addiction happened and help you become more aware of your actions.


Some addiction counselling programs are offered at the post-graduate level, but most only require a diploma.


Most addictions counsellors will recommend professional therapy in addition to addictions counselling.



In conclusion, it is vital to seek out a therapist with the knowledge and skills to properly treat the symptoms or problems that significantly or negatively impact one or more aspects of your life.


Seek out a counselor if you are experiencing challenges or a life transition that affects your mood or if you would like techniques to assist with aspects of your life and learn practical coping skills.



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