Gone are the days when people focus on just one aspect of health. Nowadays, people strive towards holistic wellness. That means not only taking care of the body, but the mind and soul as well.

In line with holistic wellness, there is a rise in mental health professionals who are ready to assist those who are seeking to improve their mental wellbeing. While there can be a considerable overlap in the roles of mental health workers, you’d be surprised to know that these professionals each have their own specialization. Get to know them, their superpowers and how they can help you on your mental wellness journey.

What is a Psychologist?

Psychology is the study of the mind. They study how people think, act, react and interact. It’s generally a study of human behaviour and the thoughts, feelings, and motivations that bring about these behaviour. They usually work from the head and use evidence based strategies rather than heart based talk therapy like a counsellor. 

Psychologists are people who graduated with a degree in psychology and went on to specialize in the various branches of psychology like mental health and educational and occupational psychology. They usually do not have medical qualifications and are not medical doctors. Thus cannot prescribe medication.

Unique characteristics: Psychologists focus on psychological treatment. They look closely at your behaviour.

Go to them for: help with understanding the patterns that cause behavioural problems, learning difficulties, motivation, depression, and anxiety.

What is a  Psychiatrist?

Psychiatry is the study of mental health problems and their diagnosis, management and prevention. 

Psychiatrists attend medical school and are trained in general medicine. They are medical doctors and are qualified to prescribe medication.

Unique characteristics: Psychiatrist focus on the biology and neurochemistry of mental conditions. They can diagnose mental health disorders and are legally and clinically able to lead professionals who take care of a patient’s mental health.

Go to them for: help with underlying biological and neurological reasons for mental disorders.

What is a Psychotherapist?

Psychotherapy is a specialized type of counselling focused on providing help to people with emotional problems. Both psychologists or psychiatrists can train to be psychotherapists. Other mental health workers, such as social workers, who have had further specialist training in psychotherapy can go on to work as a psychotherapist. Trained psychotherapists can work with individuals, couples, groups, or families. A counsellor, like ours, Amanda Westphal, is trained in psychotherapy. 

Psychotherapists are trained to help their patients explore and understand aspects of themselves and their experience using any of the different approaches in psychotherapy. They help their patients to understand how past experiences can affect how they respond to current life events. The focus is on the immediate response, the past simply gives context for understanding.

Unique characteristics: Psychotherapists help with resolving emotional issues using talking therapies. Some examples of these talking therapies are: cognitive behavioural therapies, art and play therapies, hypno-psychotherapy, and experiential constructivist therapies.

Go to them for: help with overcoming stress, emotional problems, and troublesome habits with talking therapies.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists work together to map out the best treatment for improving the mental and emotional health of a patient. Psychiatrists lead the team with an initial diagnosis and then refer or recommend a psychologist or psychotherapists for psychological treatment or talking therapies. They all have one goal: to help a patient feel better and more confident with their mental wellbeing.