Definitions of Types of Therapist
There are many types of therapists − each with different educational requirements and focuses. This list introduces the most common types and offers a brief description of each to help you better understand the options that may be available to you. Details, including education and registration requirements, are those typical for each profession, but every country or region has different regulations governing who can and can't lay claim to each title.
TherapyRoute.com believes that all mental health service providers should hold a valid registration with a board that governs standards of practice and ethics. Become familiar with the requirements that apply in your area and aim to see professionals that comply with these. If no such regulations exist, you can use those of other regions to help you to evaluate whether a professional is qualified to claim the title that they do.
Art therapists have training in both mental health and art and typically hold a master's degree. These therapists help their clients by using forms of expressive therapy that include creative processes of making or practicing art.
Child Psychotherapist Child psychotherapists have typically completed a master's or doctoral level training that legally qualifies them to work psychotherapeutically with children and adolescents. Many countries allow general psychotherapists and psychologists to work with children in the absence of specialist child training.
A Christian counselor provides pastoral counselling that combines the use of psychological counselling techniques and Christian principles. These individuals may be registered or lay counselors. The area is not always regulated but professional bodies that require members to prescribe to minimum training levels and offer ongoing support and professional development do exist in many regions.
Clinical Pastoral Therapist
Clinical pastoral therapists are qualified clinical therapists (master's or doctorate) who combine the use of psychological counselling techniques and religious principles.
Couples Counselor Couples counselors are registered counselors who offer support to couples or people in a relationship who may be considering separation or experiencing relationship problems.
Couples Psychotherapist A couples' psychotherapist is a qualified and registered psychotherapist who has undergone further specialist training in couple work.
Dietician A dietician is a qualified expert in the improvement and maintenance of human nutrition and diet. They typically hold at least a bachelor's degree in dietetics. A dietician advises people on what to eat to lead a healthy lifestyle. Their interventions may form a component of treatment for some mental health issues and can reduce nutrition-related side effects of psychiatric medications.
General Practitioner A general practitioner or GP is a medical doctor who does not specialize in any specific illness or disease. They assess and treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other practitioners for urgent and specialist treatment. A GP will often be the first port of call for people who have a mental illness. They may conduct a general check-up to ascertain if there are physical causes for the clients' symptoms and, depending on the problem, will refer clients to mental health professionals such as psychiatrists or psychologists.
Family Therapist A family therapist makes use of psychotherapy techniques to assist families to improve communication and resolve conflicts. They have training in psychotherapy and family systems and hold a master's or doctorate.
Group Analyst Group analysts are specialists in providing group analytic psychotherapy. They often hold qualifications in other health-related disciplines, e.g. psychology, occupational therapy or psychiatry. They have completed specialist training in the theory and practice of group analysis and have undergone personal group analysis to gain first-hand experience of the process.
Group Psychotherapist A group psychotherapist is a qualified psychotherapist or psychologist who has undertaken additional specialist training in group work. Unlike group analysts who typically work from an analytic perspective, group psychotherapists draw from a range of theoretical orientations.
Homoeopath (Mental Health) A homoeopath is a practitioner of general well-being (mind, body and soul) and often uses natural remedies in the form of highly diluted substances to treat illness or disorders. Training requirements vary widely, and consumers should familiarise themselves with the rules governing training and registration in their region.
Hypnotherapist Hypnotherapists include a broad range of professionals and non-professionals using hypnosis as a method of intervention. The regulations in this industry vary widely. Consumers should familiarise themselves with the rules governing this practice in their region. If no such laws exist, it may be prudent to select practitioners who also hold other professional qualifications and registrations.
Jewish Counselor A Jewish counselor provides counselling that combines the use of psychological techniques and Jewish values. These individuals may be registered or lay counselors. The area is not always regulated, but professional bodies that require members to prescribe to minimum training levels and offer ongoing support and professional development do exist in many regions. Jungian Analyst A Jungian analyst is a qualified psychotherapist who has completed intensive training in Jungian analysis. These practitioners aim to bring unconscious elements of the patient's psyche into an adjusted relationship with conscious awareness. Carl Jung developed the school of analytical psychology in the early 1900s.
Life Coach A life coach will help their clients with motivation, setting and achieving goals, prioritising, managing careers and improving on relationships. Coaching is a largely unregulated industry, and training standards vary widely (from attending a morning workshop to qualifying after years of dedicated study). Consumers should familiarize themselves with the regulations governing this practice in their region.
Music therapists have training in both mental health and music and typically hold a master's degree. Their approach involves the therapeutic application of music and may include listening to, moving to and creating music.
Muslim Counselor A Muslim counselor provides counselling that combines the use of psychological techniques and Muslim values. These individuals may be registered or lay counselors. The area is not always regulated, but professional bodies that require members to prescribe to minimum training levels and offer ongoing support and professional development do exist in many regions.
Naturopath (Mental Health)
A naturopath uses an array of natural remedies and treatments to heal disease and disorders. They employ healing practices such as homoeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine, and focus on supporting the body's natural ability to heal itself, placing an emphasis on diet, nutrition, stress management and exercise. Training and regulations vary widely, and consumers should familiarize themselves with the regulations governing this industry in their region.
A neurologist is a qualified medical doctor who has developed specialist expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the nervous system, which includes the central and peripheral nervous system and more specifically the spinal cord and the brain.
A neuropsychologist is a qualified, licensed psychologist with specialist expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders relating to the interaction between brain, behavior and cognition.
Nurse (Mental Health)
A psychiatric nurse or mental health nurse is a registered and qualified nurse who specializes in the care of patients experiencing mental illness or psychological distress. Psychiatric nursing includes different professional levels. A licensed psychiatric nurse may, for example, dispense medication, but works under the supervision of other practitioners (e.g. psychiatrists or registered nurses). They can qualify after a year of training, while a psychiatric nurse practitioner might hold a master's or doctoral degree and may be qualified to practice independently, to diagnose and treat individuals and families and prescribe medication. Consumers should familiarize themselves with the regulations governing this practice in their region.
An occupational therapist makes use of assessment and treatment techniques for aiding recovery or developing or maintaining the daily living skills of people with a physical, mental or cognitive disorder. An occupational therapist typically holds at least a bachelor's degree.
A play therapist uses an array of play and creative arts methods to engage children, foster development and help relieve behavioral and psychological conditions. Play therapists are usually registered counselors who have opted to focus on working with children.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has undertaken specialist training in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists (unlike most psychologists) are qualified to prescribe medication and tend to view psychiatric disorders in medical terms.
Psychoanalysts have undergone intensive and accredited training (specifically in psychoanalysis). This entitles them to register as a psychoanalyst with a recognized regulatory authority. Psychoanalysts emphasize the role of unconscious dynamics in mental life and are qualified to conduct psychoanalysis (3-5 times per week for several years).
A psychoanalytic psychotherapist is a psychotherapist who has undergone specialist training to apply psychoanalytic principles in their work. Psychoanalytic work is often defined as work that emphasizes unconscious conflict, resistance and transference. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is less intensive than psychoanalysis (e.g. 1-2 times per week).
Psychologists hold a master's or doctorate and register with a recognized licensing board. In most regions, psychologists train and register within specific categories, such as clinical, counselling or educational psychology.
A clinical psychologist has specialised schooling in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders and mental illness. They hold a master's degree or doctorate and register with a recognised licensing board. Most clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication, but instead use psychotherapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic therapy.
A counselling psychologist is a professional psychologist who helps people negotiate personal and interpersonal challenges across all developmental life stages. Counselling psychologists emphasise emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental and organisational well-being. Counselling psychologists hold a master's or doctorate and register with a recognised licensing board.
An educational psychologist has specialised in child-related matters, e.g. helping children or adolescents with educational or learning struggles. They may also work with social, behavioural, parental or emotional problems, or learning difficulties. Educational psychologists hold a master's or doctorate and register with a recognised licensing board.
Psychometrists are concerned with the administration, interpretation and scoring of psychological and neuropsychological tests. Depending on their level of training and experience, psychometrists may work under the supervision of a psychologist or clinical neuropsychologist.
Psychometrist (Independent Practice)
A psychometrist in independent practice is permitted to use certain psychological tests independently of a supervisor. These include selecting, administering, scoring and reporting on psychological tests. They typically hold a bachelor's degree in psychology. Psychometrists are not qualified to diagnose or treat mental disorders or illnesses.
Broadly speaking, a psychotherapist is a practitioner (e.g. a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker or nurse) who uses techniques of psychotherapy to treat psychological difficulties, disorders and illnesses. The term can also apply to a professional who has specialized in psycho-dynamic or psychoanalytic techniques by undertaking several years of intensive training.
Registered Counselor (General)
A registered counselor is a therapist who offers short-term, compassionate counselling, psycho-education and psychological assessment. These interventions are intended to be primary, and registered counselors are expected to identify and refer complex cases to more qualified professionals. Registered counselors typically hold a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Registered Counselor (Trauma)
A registered trauma counselor is a registered counselor who has opted to focus their studies and practice on providing short-term emotional support and psycho-education after a traumatic life event or sequence of events.
A researcher is a professional qualified in the systematic investigation, study and reporting of phenomena, e.g. human interaction and behavior.
Sex Therapist A sex therapist is typically a psychotherapist who has completed specialized training in the practical application of techniques of psychotherapy that aim to address anxieties about sexual function, feelings and intimacy.
Social Worker (Mental Health) A psychiatric social worker offers mental health services to vulnerable populations of society and individuals with special needs. They may be able to perform psychotherapy and diagnose mental illness. These social workers have opted to specialize and usually hold a master or doctorate. They are sometimes called clinical social workers.
Therapist/Counsellor Practising Under Supervision A therapist or counselor working under supervision makes use of the services and support of an external counselor or psychotherapist as a consultant. Although qualified practitioners consult more experienced colleagues as part of their professional development, this title applies to those who have not yet met the requirements to graduate from their training. Mental health providers offer a wide range of services. You may be in search of a specific service. A couple seeking to adopt a child will, for example, look for a therapist providing adoption services. However, for many, a range of approaches or services can address their psychological concerns and needs. A depressed individual may, for example, find that psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy or group therapy can all be effective options.