What’s the Difference Between a Psychotherapist and a Therapist?

According to a tracking poll done in July 2020, the pandemic and resulting economic recession have heavily and negatively affected people’s mental health. The poll indicated that about four out of ten adults in the United States reported signs of depression or anxiety. In addition, as the pandemic continues to rage on, more people are struggling with poor mental health issues because of job loss and isolation. If this is you, then you might require help to deal with all these negative emotions. Many people have found a psychotherapist here to help cope with such traumas.

But, with all the medical fields available today, it’s no wonder that people are pretty confused about the differences between a therapist and a psychotherapist. So, here’s everything you need to know about these two professions.

Who is a Therapist?

A therapist is a medically licensed professional who helps evaluate, diagnose, and treat people with mental and emotional disorders. Therapists determine if an individual requires additional services or specialists such as medicines, legal aid, or psychiatry. In addition, they help their patients cope with mental illness. Clients also learn several coping mechanisms, stress management techniques, and altering thinking patterns.

However, the term therapist is an extensive designation that refers to several professionals trained to provide rehabilitation and treatment. This term can include psychiatrists, psychologists, life coaches, marriage counselors, and social workers. It’s also important to note that not all therapists require licensing to practice like family, marriage, and occupational therapists.

The common types of therapists include:

  • Art therapists
  • Addiction therapists
  • Massage therapists
  • Child therapists
  • Music therapists
  • Physical therapists

Who is a Psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is a professionally trained individual who assists people with various mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, bipolar disorder, addiction, negative behavior patterns, and other debilitating feelings. In addition, they use psychotherapy to help people manage general emotional unrest.

This approach allows the psychotherapist to focus on an individual’s thought processes. It also helps address the core issues and root cause of current problems. The result is that personal growth and lasting change occur. Several types of therapy are used under psychotherapy, including dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, among others.

Differences between a Therapist and Psychotherapist

While both professions strive to provide the same results- improving people’s lives- they are still significantly different. Here are those differences.


The first difference between a therapist and a psychotherapist is the role they play when treating the patient. The role a psychotherapist plays include:

  • Engaging in dialogue
  • Providing a solution to the patient’s problem
  • Processing information
  • It helps patients get better

A therapist plays the following role in their patient’s life.

  • Providing treatment and rehabilitation
  • Provide support and guidance
  • Help in clarifying their feelings and making decisions

Education Level

The education level of both professions is different. To become a therapist, you have to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in social work or psychology. However, the level of education of your therapist largely depends on your state and facility laws. Some will hold a master’s degree, while others will undergo a state licensure exam and a supervised internship.

To become a psychotherapist, you should have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or any related field. After the degree, you can start earning a master’s degree in psychotherapy while still acquiring the relevant clinical experience for your license.


The specialization between these two professions is also quite different. A therapist is a blanket term for professionals trained to provide rehabilitation and treatment. This term encompasses other specialties under one common word. Some of the common types of therapists are:

  • Addiction therapist
  • Art therapist
  • Child therapist

Psychotherapists can only specialize depending on the treatment method. So, for example, you can have a psychotherapist who’s well experienced in cognitive therapy or dialectical therapy. You can avail Psychology online services too these days.

Methods of Treatment

The last difference is the treatment method. Therapists analyze their patient’s problems and help them acquire the appropriate help. They can also prescribe medication depending on their clients’ conditions. The treatment used in psychotherapy is talk therapy, and this falls into several categories. Each treatment method helps in addressing specific mental illnesses or behaviors.

These categories include:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy

Remember, your mental health should be your topmost priority. And having someone to talk to can help make an enormous difference. So, if you’re experiencing anxiety disorders, eating disorders, addictions, or personality disorders, visit a psychotherapist. For grief, sleeping problems, depression, and negative thinking, it’s best to see a therapist.