You may believe that a ‘therapist’ and a ‘psychologist’ are the same thing.
Or, perhaps, you may think, “they’re similar enough... It doesn’t matter which title I use.”
Finding help for mental illness can already seem confusing and overwhelming for those seeking care, so making sure you’re using the right vocabulary can help clear the water.
So, what IS the difference between a therapist and a psychologist?
Let’s find out.
The term “therapist” is quite an umbrella term, to say the least. In Australia, there are many types of therapists you can seek help from if you’re looking to dive into your journey of inner healing and growth.
The most general, commonly seen, kind of therapist is an occupational therapist.
An occupational therapist can provide services and expertise to either individual, one on one clients, or to multiple people (such as a family).
An occupational therapist provides hands-on services for clients with disabilities that empower them to become healthier, happier, and more capable versions of themselves.
Occupational therapists enable and support their clients in many different forms of participation. This could be self-care tasks such as showering, personal hygiene, getting dressed, and cooking.
Additionally, productive activities to boost self-confidence such as schooling, working, volunteering or caring for others are carried out.
In addition, leisure activities are highly encouraged, so joining community groups, or participating in a social hobby are supported.
Due to their extensive knowledge and skill level in many different settings, occupational therapists can be found in a variety of both public and private environments.
Public places to find a therapist are often community health centres, hospitals, educational settings, aged care facilities, government departments, mental health settings, and addiction centres.
Private settings are often in-home visits, private hospitals, group homes, and private clinics.
While many clients that occupational therapists serve suffer from disabilities, utilising the help of an occupational therapist is not just for the physically disabled.
Both short and long term illnesses, injury recovery from an accident, or any season in life that is debilitating your ability to perform major life tasks and activities are all situations in which an occupational therapist is incredibly helpful.
Occupational therapists work with illness and disabilities both physical and mental.
While occupational therapists can help in more broad, general ways, they can also provide more strategic, individual assistance as well.
A few kinds of services occupational therapists provide are:
Skill development: This could be in self-care, integration into society, or self/home management
Modification of environment
Assessment and interventions
Therapeutic techniques to enhance day to day performance
A psychologist is one of the most misunderstood terms when it comes to the mental health field. Despite being trained and educated in a general sense, they are often more specialised and skilled in a more narrow scope of practice.
In a broad, general sense, a psychologist conducts assessments for clients, provides therapy, supports and guides clients through life’s changes, conducts research, educates others in the field, and administers tests to either individuals or groups.
Psychologists are often known for their practice of psychotherapy, however, this is just a small part of what they’re able to do.
In Australia, a psychologist is viewed as an expert in human behaviour and using that knowledge to help clients overcome challenges and mental health problems.
Evidence-based techniques and strategies are used to help clients live more meaningful, healthy lives.
In any setting that requires assessment, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of mental health services, you will likely find a psychologist.
Some psychologists open their own private practices, while others remain in public environments like educational facilities or hospitals.
Courts, prisons, community health centres, or teaching careers are a few commonly chosen workplaces in which the need for psychologists is great.
There are a variety of different types of psychologists such as clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists and neuropsychologists. Depending on which speciality the psychologist has training in, their clientele will differ.
Services provided by psychologists vary depending on their field of practice. Since psychologists are educated and skilled in the science of human behaviour, feelings, and reactions, they are needed virtually everywhere.
This being said, psychology as a whole covers services such as:
Diagnosis of mental illness
Treatment of mental illness
Mental health advocacy
Interventions for at-risk clients
Providing information and advice to those in need
Working in the educational sector
When it comes to a therapist and a psychologist, there are many stark differences.
Therapists work to actively engage their clients in self-confidence boosting activities in order to enhance their quality of life, and mental health.
Psychologists are required to pass through more vigorous training in order to understand the full scope of human behaviour.
A psychologist can work one on one with an individual providing evidence-based techniques, and talk therapy to overcome a client’s deep-rooted issues.
While the two occupations do overlap in some areas, using their terms interchangeably only muddies up the water for those trying to receive help. Now that you know the difference, try your best to make a conscious change in vocabulary for the benefit of those around you.
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