Psychologist vs Therapist vs Counselor – What’s The Difference?

This article explains the differences between a psychologist, a therapist, and a counselor.


A psychologist is a scientist who uses data collected both in non-laboratory and in the laboratory settings to find answers to complex social and individual problems.

He can specialize in a number of different fields, resulting in possible careers as a social psychologist, forensic psychologist, health psychologist, educational psychologist, behavioral psychologist, and medical psychologist.

Some psychologists work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with social workers and physicians, or in school settings, working with parents, teachers, and students. Other work independently, consulting with clients, working with patients, or conducting research.

Psychologists usually do the following:

  • research papers, write articles and reports to share findings;
  • conduct scientific studies of brain function and behavior;
  • discuss the treatment of problems with clients;
  • test for patterns that will help them better predict and understand the behavior;
  • identify emotional and behavioral patterns;
  • identify organizational, behavioral, emotional, or psychological issues;
  • interview, observe, and survey people.

It typically takes about four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Also, it takes about two years to complete a master’s degree. In addition, it takes four years to complete a doctoral degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, psychologists working full-time earn around $75,000 per year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 14 percent for psychologists until 2026.


A psychotherapist, or a therapist, is a licensed mental health professional who helps people improve their lives, cope with various challenges, reduce symptoms of mental illness, and develop better emotional and cognitive skills.

The therapist’s job is to help sufferers view themselves and situations differently.

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Some of the things that therapists do include the following:

  • listening;
  • spending a maximum of 20 hours per week with a client;
  • helping sufferers reflect on problems to help them make positive changes;
  • keeping records of past sessions;
  • liaising with others to help any changes happen;
  • encouraging clients to talk;
  • setting up any confidentiality issues;
  • setting up a contract to establish what will be covered in the sessions;
  • referring clients to other therapies, like online therapy.

The majority of psychotherapists have completed a substantial amount of supervised clinical hours before seeing a client. They also hold a master’s degree.


A counselor is trained to help people who are struggling with many different problems in their lives, from financial or career issues to family or marital difficulties.

On the job, counselors:

  • take a holistic approach to mental health care;
  • refer clients to psychologists;
  • work with communities, groups, individuals, to improve mental health;
  • develop therapeutic processes;
  • help clients define goals;
  • work with families;
  • examine issues including suicide, stress, self-image, LGBTQ issues, relationships, depression, careers, anger management, bullying, aging, or substance abuse;
  • encourage clients to discuss experiences and emotions.

Bottom Line: Psychologist vs Therapist vs Counselor – Differences

Psychologists study human behavior and social, emotional, and cognitive processes by observing and interpreting how people relate to their friends, family, partners, or work colleagues.

Psychotherapists use different psychological techniques to help sufferers overcome psychiatric illnesses, such as obsessions, addictions, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression.

Counselors provide support to people experiencing emotional difficulties by helping them work through their issues.

In conclusion, a psychologist has a higher degree than that of a therapist. Moreover, psychologists can be therapists, but, the two careers are not interchangeable. 

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A psychologist can also work in research, in addition to spending time seeing clients.

A therapist is a professional who only treats clients. 


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