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If you feel unwell, you may need therapy, but who should you go to? Here we look at the difference between psychologists and psychotherapists and how they can help.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychotherapist?

Sometimes you may need treatment for a variety of problems such as anxiety, depression or stress. It is not always easy to know where to go for help and who to talk to. It can also be unclear what the difference is between a psychologist and a psychotherapist. Both are licensed professions by the National Board of Health and Welfare, which means that there is a degree of patient safety associated with the therapy.

Psychologists and psychotherapists are also obliged to work with the methods that have been shown to have the best effect in research and to follow the existing recommendations. This is so that the care will be as good as possible for those who seek it. The difference between psychologists and psychotherapists is that they have different basic training. You can read more about this here.

Licensed psychologist

A psychologist has a five-year vocational degree from a university psychology program. Psychologists learn evidence-based psychological treatment and neuropsychiatric assessment with cognitive testing during their training. In order to get their license, they must do many years of training, and they require accreditation by a certified Irish organisation.

A psychologist works with assessment, investigation and treatment of mental illness. They work, for example, in medical centers, in psychiatry, as school psychologists, in the prison system and in private practice. Psychologists can also train to become specialists in different areas such as clinical psychology, occupational psychology or neuropsychiatry.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

Benedetta Osarenk


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12 common questions and answers on psychologist vs psychotherapist

What is a psychologist?

A psychologist is a person who works to assess, investigate and treat mental health problems in public and private health care. It is a licensed profession.

What is a psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is a person involved in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems in the public and private sectors. It is also a licensed profession.

What is a therapist?

A therapist is a person who works as a counsellor but it is not a protected professional title such as a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist. So anyone can call themselves a therapist.

What is the difference between psychologist and psychotherapist?

The difference between these professions is that they have different basic training, with psychologists having completed a five-year vocational training course in psychological treatment and assessment, while psychotherapists can be doctors, social workers or nurses. The psychotherapist program is an advanced training program.

What methods and techniques are used in psychotherapy?

The most common is training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as this is the method most often recommended by the National Board of Health and Welfare, but there are other methods that are also helpful. In CBT, you work with thoughts, feelings and behaviors to feel better.

What does it mean to be licensed?

Having a license means that you have attended a program such as the psychologist or psychotherapist program and done the required internship before applying for a license from the accredited Irish organisations. It is a quality assurance where you have patient safety and work on an evidence-based basis to ensure that it is as good as possible for the person seeking care.

I am thinking of meeting a coach, what does that mean?

A coach is a person who can work with counseling to create change. This can be helpful, but coaches do not make psychological assessments or have broader knowledge of different conditions. Psychologists are also often taught coaching as part of their initial training.

What is stage 1 training in CBT?

Sometimes you can read that someone has had a stage 1 training in CBT, which means that they have had basic CBT training. You can do this if, for example, you work with people and want to learn more about the method.

Can you get psychotherapy online?

It is possible to receive treatment digitally via video. Research has shown that the outcome of the treatment is equivalent to meeting in person.

What is a CBT therapist?

A CBT therapist is either a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist who is trained in CBT or a therapist who has completed Step 1 in CBT, which is a shorter basic training in CBT.

What does it cost to attend psychotherapy?

At Lavendla, it is the psychologists and therapists who set the price and you can see these on the therapist’s profile page. An individual therapy session with Lavendla therapists usually lasts 45 minutes.

Where can I go if I need help?

At Lavendla, we have experienced psychologists and therapists who can help you feel better. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, contact 112 or the nearest emergency room.

What is a psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist has completed a psychotherapy course, which is an advanced training course for doctors, social workers and nurses, but psychologists can also take it if they want to develop further in the profession. The psychotherapist program can be part or full time. It then leads to certification as a psychotherapist. A psychotherapist can work in public health care such as a medical center or psychiatry, but also in private practice. They work mainly in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems.

What does a therapist do?

A therapist can work with conversation therapy, but it is good to know that calling yourself a therapist is not, unlike psychologist and psychotherapist, a protected title, but anyone can call themselves that. Thus, there is not the same quality assurance and patient safety as with a licensed profession.

As a licensed psychologist, you need to work with the methods that have been shown to give the best results in research and if you as a client have been mistreated, you can report this. This is not the case if you go to a therapist. Licensed staff also observe confidentiality and have a duty of confidentiality and record keeping.

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Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.