WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SOCIAL WORKER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, PSYCHOLOGIST & PSYCHIATRIST?
Taking that initial step towards counselling can be very nerve wracking. But it is something you should also be very proud of! The first question clients typically ask at the start of their journey is “what are the different types of mental health care providers?” It can be overwhelming trying to differentiate between the different professions so we are going to break it down and go through them. This way we can get a better understanding of the different professions and their roles. Before we begin it is important to note that social workers, psychotherapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are all regulated professions.
What is a Regulated Profession?
When we refer to a profession as regulated, that means that the job requires a certain level of education and training. This is to ensure that the services provided are conducted in a safe, professional, and ethical manner to benefit the general public.
Now that we have defined a regulated profession, lets break down the differences between these mental health titles!
To become a social worker an individual must obtain a Bachelors of Social Work degree. They can then complete a Masters of Social Work degree and can become registered through the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. You can typically find Social Workers working in hospitals, social service agencies, community centres, schools, and even private practice like us!
Moving on to psychotherapists! These are individuals who are registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). They are required to complete an undergraduate program and master’s degree. This typically means they can have a variety of educational backgrounds for their undergraduate but then have completed a master’s in counselling. To be registered with the CRPO, psychotherapists must complete 450 hours of direct client work and 100 hours of clinical supervision.
It is important to note that while Social Workers and Psychotherapists can provide counselling services and use a number of treatment modalities, they are not able to provide a diagnosis or prescribe medication.
Psychologists are mental health professionals who have received a doctorate degree in the field of psychology. Just like a psychotherapist, a psychologist must complete a certain number of supervised hours. As we previously discussed, psychotherapists require 100 hours of supervised work whereas psychologists require 1500 hours of supervised clinical work. Along with the clinical work, a psychologist must also complete written and oral examinations before they can become registered. Psychologists are able to provide a diagnosis, complete psychological assessments, and perform therapy! Psychologists are still not able to prescribe medication to their clients.
When we refer to someone as a psychiatrist we are referring to a medical doctor. They would be required to attend medical school, just like a family doctor would! When it comes to their residency, they would specialize in the field of psychiatry. The field of psychiatry is a branch of medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral disorders. Just like a psychologist, psychiatrists are able to diagnose along with prescribing medications! It is important to note that out of all the professions we spoke about, psychiatrists are the only ones who would be covered by OHIP.
We Are Here for You!
Each profession includes their own strengths, skills, and scope of practice. You can always book an intake with Anchoridge Counselling and we will help you find the right clinician for you. Trying to find the right clinician can be a stressful and confusing process but we are here to help you through this! The ultimate goal is that you feel comfortable with your clinician and supported throughout your journey.
Thanks for reading,