Therapist vs Psychologist : What’s the Difference?

Both therapists and psychologists analyze the mental and emotional underpinnings that affect people’s lives, and both are committed to helping human beings heal and thrive. However, here are some qualities that individually define each and help you distinguish the difference between a therapist and psychologist: Psychologist vs Therapist: psychologist vs therapist 

Psychologist vs Therapist

What Is a Psychologist?

  • Psychologists may work as therapists, but may also work as researchers or as parts of non-profits and other organizations that serve particular populations of people.
  • Psychologists typically have an advanced degree in psychology with an emphasis in an area of psychology.
  • Psychologists may work with clients, but could also work with other professionals in the field or with professionals in completely different fields to jointly identify mental and emotional sources of complex problems.

What Is a Therapist?

  • Therapists may be trained psychologists or other types of professionals: life coaches, counselors, or social workers, for example. In some states, the title “Therapist” is protected and applies only if the professional is a licensed therapist. In other states, “therapists” could be counselors, social workers, or other types of professionals.
  • Therapists typically have an advanced degree, but potentially in subjects other than psychology (social work, sociology, etc.). Many have licenses to practice in their discipline.  
  • Therapists work closely with their clients in one-on-one or group sessions to identify mental and emotional challenges and explore solutions

Below, find a list of sponsored institutions that can be a good launching point for your studies. 


Colleges and Degrees to Become a Psychologist

1. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is located in Chicago, IL and offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis online. In a program like this one, students learn how to experimentally analyze behavior and the fundamentals of behaviorism and applied behavior analysis. With a degree in this area, students could pursue work in non-profits, government, academia, business, or service delivery.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology also offers master’s and doctorate degrees in areas such as Forensic Psychology, School Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and other areas of the discipline.

Psychologist vs Therapist

Psychologists typically have education and training directly in the field of psychology. They may become licensed therapists, work as researchers, work as educators, or apply their knowledge in other settings. They may earn degrees in areas such as forensic psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, sports psychology, and numerous other areas.

2. Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)

Jefferson is located in Philadelphia, PA and offers a Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling on campus. Through a program like this one, students develop the skills to be mental health counselors and to conduct research and develop knowledge in the field of trauma and community counseling.

Jefferson also offers a Master of Science with Art Therapy Specialization in Community and Trauma Counseling.

Counselor vs Therapist

Both help people; either may or may not have a license; both typically require a graduate degree in psychology or an area such as counseling, social work, or dispute resolution. 

3. Argosy University

Argosy University offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology through its Orange, California campus. In forensic psychology, professionals use their knowledge of psychology in civil and criminal areas, especially as they apply to legal matters.

Argosy University also offers an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, an EdD in Counseling Psychology, a PsyD in Clinical Psychology, an M.A. in Sport-Exercise Psychology, and degrees in other areas of psychology at its Orange, CA location.

Psychotherapist vs Psychologist

These could be one and the same! Both likely have education and training in psychology—a psychologist may or may not offer therapy; a psychotherapist most definitely does (when licensed and hired!).

4. The John F. Kennedy University

Through its Pleasant Hill, California location, the John F. Kennedy University offers a PsyD and Master of Arts in Sport Psychology “linked” degree, which enables students to earn a doctorate and master’s degree concurrently. A degree like this may enable professionals to practice sports psychology clinically. In sports psychology, professionals often work with athletes, coaches, and other professionals in the industry to provide psychological assessment and support.

At the same location, the John F. Kennedy University also offers an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, a Sports Psychology/M.B.A. dual degree, a PsyD, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in holistic practice, and other degrees in the discipline. The John F. Kennedy University also has online options and numerous other locations.

Colleges and Degrees to Become a Therapist

1. Walden University

Walden University offers a Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical Psychology. This type of degree typically helps students pursue positions as therapists who assess and treat mental illnesses and disabilities. This particular degree is offered online.

Walden University Online also offers an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Military Families and Culture, an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Career Counseling, and numerous other degrees in the discipline.

Therapist vs Psychologist

Just like psychologists, therapists may be trained and educated in psychology. They may have licenses to act as clinical or other types of therapists. Therapists may also work as life coaches, school counselors, community counselors, social workers, mediators, and in other positions to help people identify, assess, and address mental, social, and emotional issues.

2. California Southern University

California Southern University offers a Master of Science in Dispute Resolution (M.S.D.R.) online from its Irvine, California location. Professionals with this type of degree may not work as licensed therapists, but they could work with people in governmental, non-governmental, non-profit, and other types of agencies to help individuals and groups work through disputes and come to peaceful resolutions.

California Southern University also offers an M.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Psychology, and a Doctorate of Psychology, all online.

Life Coach vs Therapist

Typically, a life coach identifies challenges and motivates and inspires clients to surpass them. A therapist meanwhile, identifies issues and helps resolve them. Either can provide meaningful support across areas of life. These two professionals might also have distinct qualifications.

3. Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University offers a Master of Social Work with an emphasis in Community Practice online through its Fairfield, Connecticut location. Influenced by the Catholic tradition, this program helps students develop their knowledge and skills in areas of social work and learn how to apply their skills to help small groups and communities thrive.

Sacred Heart University also offers an M.S. in Applied Psychology, a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, and a Master of Social Work.

4. Walla Walla University

Walla Walla University offers a Students-at-Risk degree that helps students learn how to identify students at risk (across areas, from failing at school to being socially maladjusted) and support them in finding success (whether by connecting them with a psychiatrist or other professionals in the field of psychology, connecting them with school counselors, or otherwise supporting them).  

Through Walla Walla University’s College Place, Washington location, students can earn degrees in Counseling Psychology, Social Work, Psychology, Education, and other areas through which students could develop their skills to provide types of therapy to people.

5. Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology. In this program, students learn how to serve the needs of students, students’ families, and educational staff by providing them behavioral, social, emotional, mental, and educational support.

Nova Southeastern University also offers an M.S. in Forensic Psychology, an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in Developmental Disabilities, an M.S. in General Psychology, an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling, a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Conflict Resolution Practice, a Graduate Certificate in Peace Studies, and degrees in other areas of psychology, education, and peace studies.

Wait...What’s the Difference Between a Therapist and a Counselor?

The difference between a therapist and counselor can be just as difficult (or simple) to discern as the difference between therapist and psychologist. In the case of a therapist and counselor, they could be one and the same but have different titles. Both could do the exact same work in the exact some field, and both could get education and training in psychology or another discipline such as social work, conflict resolution, or sociology. Similarly, either of them could work across industries, from business to government to education. The main difference between the two might be licensure and certification. In some states, therapists must have particular education, experience, and licensure to use the title.

Well Then, What’s the Difference Between a Social Worker and Psychologist?

A social worker could have education in a discipline other than psychology, while a psychologist definitely has education in psychology. Depending on their degree, either could work as a therapist, researcher, or educator. (And remember, a social worker could have education in psychology, too!)

Therapist vs Psychologist: Which Job Would You Like to Pursue?

We’ve given you lots of options for beginning your search into education that can help you become a therapist of psychologist. Whether you want to become a mental health psychologist, become a social worker, learn the clinical psychologist definition, or want to know what is counseling psychology and how does it differ from community counseling, we have resources for you!

Browse through the schools and programs above or use our site to broaden your search. Good luck!

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