Difference Between Therapist and Psychiatrist

Therapists and psychiatrists are two famous groups of professionals working towards building a better community by improving social and personal health. Their approaches and areas of specializations may differ. Some people are under the impression that therapist and psychiatrist mean the same thing. It is safe to say there is some accuracy to it when considering the two terms under normal usage but therapist, definitely, has a broader meaning due to various fields of work. A psychiatrist only works in the field of psychology and work is highly specialized.


Therapist is a person, who has a set of skills and qualifications to understand a person’s specific needs, and help when in need. The therapist stays on in difficult times and is hopeful of gradual and stepwise improvement in a person’s life through therapy. Therapist may help to bring about productive changes in life through suggestions, guidance, and many techniques depending on the need. Therapists, or psychotherapists to be accurate, can be of many types depending on the intensity and variation of needs. Some are psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists etc.

Psychiatrists are also one type of therapists. They may also differ by the techniques used. For children, some may use play therapy. For couples emotionally focused therapy is used and for psychological disorders such as depression, eating disorders, identity formation etc. narrative therapy is used. Some therapists may inform the client the technique of use, when their corporation and understanding is required to achieve results. However, it is not necessary in most incidents.


A psychiatrist is also a kind of therapist. They are a highly specialized group of therapists due to the fact that they are medical doctors who are highly trained to treat mental disorders/psychological disorders, which require not only various therapeutic methods but also prescription of drugs and different medical treatments requiring authority and license to perform. Some therapies such as shock treatment can only be performed under the supervision of a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists differ from therapist due to this main reason and due to the fact that their clients are most of the time “patients”. Some psychiatrists may use therapies such as talk therapy in a later stage of treatment or in the identification. But many psychiatrists typically limit their service to drug prescription and allow a team of therapists to continue the treatments from there onwards.

What is the difference between a Therapist and a Psychiatrist?

• A therapist has a broader scope, but a psychiatrist is one type of therapists.

• A therapist may use many therapeutic techniques, but the focus of a psychiatrist is mainly on prescriptions.

• A therapist may cater to a wider client base comprising of children, couples, professionals etc. but a psychiatrist’s clients are most of the time “patients” having psychological disorders.

• A therapist may be a skilled professional bearing qualifications and license to perform numerous therapeutic techniques, but a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is specialized in psychiatry.