Do You Want a Psychologist or a Therapist?

Beginning the Therapeutic Process

Starting therapy when you’re new to the process might feel overwhelming. You’re trying to figure out what kind of mental health professional you want to see. Do you want to work with a psychologist or a therapist? It’s helpful to do the research and learn more about the different kinds of people who work in mental health. These professionals are the ones who can help you live a better quality of life. The question you might be asking yourself is, do you want a psychologist or a therapist?


A therapist is a wide-ranging term that encompasses many mental health professionals. Therapists come in a variety of forms. They may be life coaches or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). They use an array of different strategies to help their clients. Some therapists incorporate movement or drama therapy to help their clients. Why would you choose a therapist? If you’re working to form a support system and manage your day-to-day life challenges, a therapist may be an excellent choice for you. They also can provide specific types of help to clients, such as family therapy, depending on their specialization. If you’re going through a rough time in your relationship, a therapist whose focus is marriage or couples counseling could be an excellent choice for you.


A psychologist is a mental health professional who has done extensive research in the social sciences. They can make diagnoses by sitting with their clients, determining their symptoms, and asking the right questions. Psychologists often work with psychiatrists to help patients treat their mental illness like bipolar disorder, anxiety or major depressive disorder. Psychologists typically have advanced degrees such as a PhD or a PsyD. While a PhD is focused more on the research side of things, a PsyD is focused more on therapeutic counseling.

Questions to Ask Before You Start Therapy

Before you start seeing a therapist or psychologist, make sure you know some crucial information, such as the cost and length of sessions. Here are some things to find out from your potential provider before starting treatment:

  •    Do they take your insurance?
  •    How much does therapy cost (without insurance)?
  •    Is there a sliding scale, meaning can you pay less depending on your income?
  •    How long are sessions?
  •    What forms of therapy do they practice?

Having this information may give you a baseline knowledge of what to expect and what skills you will learn in a therapy session.

Getting Help Is What Matters

Your realization that you need mental health treatment matters. When you’re at the point where you’ve reached out for help, that’s brave. Both therapists and psychologists practice certain kinds of treatments. Some of those include CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy). Whichever kind of mental health professional you choose, make sure you feel comfortable being open and honest with that person. When you’re able to express yourself freely, you’ll get more out of therapy.

Getty image by Wavebreakmedia.

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