Psychotherapists are those medical professionals trained in helping people going through emotional problems. A psychotherapist may work as a psychiatrist, psychologist, behavioral therapist, or social worker depending on their area of specialization, training, and education. 

In general, psychotherapists help people in managing relationship and emotional problems or overcoming stressful episodes in their lives. These professionals can also help people overcome and manage actions and habits that cause issues in both their personal and professional lives.

Video: What is the difference between Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Counsellors?

Most psychotherapists mainly work with individuals as they treat their patients on one-on-on basis. But, many of them also have the qualifications for working with families, couples, and groups of employees or workers. 

Professionals from most medical fields might be qualified to work as a psychotherapist. Most of the practicing psychotherapists ( today have received training and education as psychologists or psychiatrists. They might also be other types of professionals in mental health who have gone through extensive specialist psychotherapy training. 

There are several medical psychotherapists who also received the training and education required for them to become fully qualified doctors. Typically, these professionals have acquired university training in psychiatry before pursuing additional specialist psychotherapy training that lasts for 3 to 4 years. The medical psychotherapists mainly focus on psychotherapeutic treatment of those patients who have been diagnosed with certain psychiatric conditions. 

Also called talk therapy, psychotherapy can take on different forms, focusing on several different objectives and approaches that include the following:

  • Play and arts therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Experiential constructivist therapy
  • Hypno-psychotherapy
  • Integrative and humanistic psychotherapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychoanalytic therapy
  • Family and systemic psychotherapy

Key Differences between Psychologists and Psychotherapists

The functions and roles of psychologists and psychotherapists overlap in various aspects although there are some notable differences between these two:


Training in psychotherapy takes place primarily at graduate level. This means that it isn’t necessary for a psychotherapist to have undergraduate education in psychology. Having formal education in criminal justice, public policy, or medicine is the sole requirement for training for psychotherapists. 

Psychotherapists focus on assisting their clients to explore and understand aspects of themselves and their experience.
Psychotherapists, are licensed mental health professionals who specialize in helping clients develop better cognitive and emotional skills

Aside from graduate education, the aspiring psychotherapists also need to go through an internship and practical training to understand the profession better.

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