Who is a psychologist and who is a psychotherapist?

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Who is a psychologist and who is a psychotherapist?

There is some confusion in the use of the concepts of psychologist and psychotherapist. There is a vague idea that both have to do with the psyche and somehow “treat” it in the course of a conversation with a patient.

At the same time, the image of a psychotherapist is much more solid. A man of age, vaguely reminiscent of Freud or even Jung, appears to have a leisurely conversation about dreams and similar amazing things in the life of his patient.

The psychologist appears to be much younger, often he seems to be a woman altogether, somewhat inferior in her experience to the psychotherapist. Probably, it is connected with these mythological ideas of our society that the majority of patients, judging by my personal experience, more want to communicate with a psychotherapist than with a psychologist, while not having the slightest idea what the difference is between them.

Difference between psychologist and psychotherapist

In fact, the difference between them is simple: a psychotherapist is a psychiatrist who, during his postgraduate education, received a certificate in psychotherapy and the right to treat not only with medicines, but also with words within the framework of psychotherapeutic techniques. A psychologist is not a doctor, which, however, does not prevent him from using all the same psychotherapeutic techniques as a psychotherapist. The only thing that a psychologist really “yields” to a psychotherapist is that he cannot make diagnoses and prescribe medications. 

Thus, if you are only attuned to psychotherapeutic assistance, you do not care who to turn to – a psychologist or a psychotherapist. It is also useful to think about the fact that a psychologist has been studying psychology at an institute for 5 years, while a psychotherapist, being a doctor by training, is much less. If you are also counting on medication support, only a psychotherapist will help you. 

A special group of people is made up of specialists who name themselves after certain narrow areas of psychotherapy: family psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, masters of neurolinguistic programming. Not wanting to accuse and offend anyone, I would nevertheless note that the education of these individuals is often limited to relatively short courses in one specific area of ​​psychotherapy, which ultimately cannot be equivalent to either fundamental psychological education or psychotherapeutic specialization of a psychiatrist.

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