Psychological Professions

There are many significant differences between psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy. Each deals with different types of problems. But there is also some overlap and similarities in their work as the brief description of each profession below shows. Some psychiatrists and psychologists also train as psychotherapists because they see the advantage of combining the different skills involved.

Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They can prescribe psychiatric medication.

Psychologists are social scientists who study behaviour and mental processes. Some work in research, education and commercial fields. Psychologists provide, administer and interpret psychological tests and assessments.

Clinical psychologists undergo specialist postgraduate training to qualify in psychological - or 'talking' - therapies. They are not medical doctors and do not prescribe drugs. Clinical psychologists work in similar ways to psychotherapists, although they may use a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour to assess clients and decide on therapy options.

Counsellors can practice after receiving relatively short training, although some have many years of experience. It is generally accepted that counsellors provide shorter-term therapy.

Psychotherapists undergo years of postgraduate, in-depth and experiential training in how to work with a variety of people with a wide range of emotional distress, mental health issues and difficulties. Psychotherapists are often trained in one or more of the psychotherapy modalities.


1The key to successful therapy is finding the right therapist for you. However good, knowledgeable or experienced a therapist is, it is the relationship between the two of you that determines whether you trust them enough, and they come to understand you enough, to help you explore and find solutions for your problem.

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2I have trained as a Dramatherapist, a Dialectical Behaviour Therapist and I am an accredited Cognitive Analytic Practitioner. I am registered with the Health Professions Council, a full member of the British Association of Dramatherapists and of the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy.

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3As well as working in private practice, I work as a therapist with a NHS specialist service for people with personality disorders.

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4I commit to engage with the challenge of striving for ethical practice and conduct. I take responsibility for respecting my patient's best interests when providing therapy and to treat my patient with respect.

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