• Joseanne Spiteri

What is the difference between a Psychologist, a Psychotherapist and a Psychiatrist?

I often receive inquiries about the difference between the different mental health professionals. Indeed, there are many different titles for what may appear to be the same service. Let me try to clarify what you can expect from each professional so that you can determine what is right for you.


Psychiatrist

-medically trained

-can focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health issues.

-qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

-able to prescribe medication

-able to diagnose according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

-services covered by OHIP


Psychologist

-advanced degree in the study of human behaviour.

-trained in the assessment, treatment and prevention of behavioural and mental conditions.

-diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions as well as psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and dysfunctions.

-extensive training in research or clinical practice and can provide psychological testing and evaluation.

-services not covered by OHIP


Psychotherapist

-mental health professional that uses the development of the therapeutic relationship to bring about positive change for a client, including their thoughts, feelings, behaviours and social functioning.

-primarily a talk-based therapy and is intended to help people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being.

-work with individuals, couples and families in individual and group settings

-services not covered by OHIP


When choosing a mental health professional, it is important to determine your mental health needs. If you are looking for a diagnosis or medication, then you will need an appointment with a psychiatrist. If you are requiring psychological tests, you will need a psychologist. If you need support for relationships, mood issues, or talk therapy, you will need a psychotherapist. Some psychotherapists (like myself) work in private practice. Others work in agencies.


Your insurance:

It is important to make sure you book under the right professional category so that you can use your benefits correctly. Many find and book mental health professionals that align with their insurance coverage. Insurance companies are very particular regarding what they will cover. For example, some will not cover Psychotherapy but will only cover Psychology or Social Work.

Couples Therapy Centre

In my practice, I receive supervision under a Psychologist and can therefore offer Psychological Services for a fee that can be reimbursed through many extended health plans. I can also provide receipts for Psychotherapy Services. Many extended health plans are reimbursing these services. Further, psychotherapy is now recognized as a medical expense by the Canada Revenue Agency and is eligible for a tax credit.



I highly recommend that all clients check with their insurance provider prior to the first session/booking.