Counselor, Psychotherapist or Psychiatrist?

Counselor, Psychotherapist, Community Mental Health Counselor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist – all names for the same thing? Not exactly. All could be considered counselors, and psychotherapy is a catch-all term for all types of mental health counseling, however there are some important differences.

  • Counselor – A masters degree in counseling, community counseling, school counseling or social work. Counselors are licensed in the state of Wisconsin and may also be National Certified Counselors (NCC). National Certified Counselors are board certified counselors who offer the highest standards of practice for consumers because they have met stringent education, examination, supervision, experience, and ethical requirements. If you would like more information about NCC requirements click here:
  • Psychologist – A psychologist will usually have a doctoral degree in psychology (a PhD also known as a Doctor of Philosophy) or PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) in clinical or counseling psychology. While most psychologists practice psychotherapy a good many also conduct academic research.
  • Psychiatrist - While psychologists and psychiatrists both conduct psychotherapy and research, there are significant differences between the two professions in terms of education, training, and approaches to patient treatment. Psychiatrists are physicians that have specific training in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. A second important distinction between the two careers is that psychiatrists can prescribe medications, while, in most states, psychologists cannot.

Always look for a licensed mental health professional. In Wisconsin counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists working with clients need to be licensed. You may confirm a mental health provider’s license by going to the following website:



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