What is the difference between a psychologist and a counsellor?

Continuing my series on what psychologists are I would like to explain the differences between a psychologist and a counsellor.

A counsellor is someone who assists a person to develop understanding of themselves, their circumstances or their problems and facilitates setting goals and making changes. There are no specific training or registration requirements for a person to be a counsellor. However, most counsellors will have completed some training, and many maintain voluntary registration as an endorsement of their skills.

I have previously tried to distill the definition of a psychologist in the simplest possible terms: a psychologist applies scientific research to understanding and shaping human behaviour. Many psychologists provide counselling – but not all. Psychologists may work in research, recruitment, teaching, assessment and a range of other areas that may not involve providing counselling services.
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What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Following on from my last post, answering the question “What is a psychologist?” I will now briefly answer what is probably the question I am most commonly asked in relation to being a psychologist: “What is the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?”
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What is a psychologist?

Therapy chairs
There is no shortage of questions about what a psychologist is, what a psychologist does and how a psychologist is different from other professionals. I am commonly asked questions such as:

  • Are psychologists the same as psychiatrists?
  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a clinical psychologist?
  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a counsellor?
  • What is a sports/ health/ forensic/ educational/ organisational/ counselling/ community/ neuro-psychologist?
  • How does a person become a psychologist?
  • Can a psychologist help me with _____?
  • Isn’t psychology all just common sense?
  • Are you analysing me right now?
  • … and, of course …
  • What is a psychologist?

To answer all of these questions would make for a tediously long post. So I would like to start with that final question, and the title of this post – “what is a psychologist?” Perhaps at some point I will expand this to a series of posts addressing the other questions.
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