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  • Writer's pictureGail Wilson Counselling

What types of Mental health professionals are available?

How do you know what type of mental health professional to see?

In reading dialogue in many social media groups or chatting with people who are not in the mental health field I realized how much confusion there is about the varied Mental health professionals. So I decided to define each one and clear up some misconceptions.

What is the difference between a Psychotherapist, Psychiatrist or a Psychologist? They all mean the same thing, right? That’s not true! They are all Mental health professionals within different scopes and capacities in the field of healthcare.

To clear up the confusion, Here is a break down:

What is a psychotherapist? 

Often referred to as therapists or counsellors, these healthcare professionals are trained to help people with everyday mental challenges such as anxiety, depression or grief. Psychotherapist are usually Master level trained professionals who utilize evidence based methodology such as, but not limited to, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Narrative therapy and/ or varied practical methods such as Yoga, art etc.Their fees aren’t covered by provincial health insurance, but may be included in workplace health benefits or by private insurance providers. If person's are interested and need to pay out of pocket some clinicians offer sliding scales, just ask!

What is a psychologist? 

A Psychologists typically holds a doctorate (PhD) in clinical psychology. They’re skilled in diagnosing and treating certain mental illnesses and learning disabilities. Their fees aren’t covered by provincial health insurance, either but are covered under private insurance policies or out of pocket for users. Psychologist utilize clinical evidence based methods to care for their clients like those mentioned under Psychotherapist.

What is a psychiatrist? 

They’re medical doctors who often work with people with severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Unlike psychologists or psychotherapists, psychiatrists’ medical background allows them to prescribe medication to their patients. Some psychiatrists may also practise psychotherapy or work with a therapist to help treat their patients. Psychiatrists ARE covered by provincial health insurance (OHIP).

As a profession, psychotherapy is now statutorily regulated in four provinces.


Ontario: Registered Psychotherapist (RP)

Quebec: No specific title, but therapists require a Psychotherapy Permit

New Brunswick: Licensed Counselling Therapist (LCT)

Nova Scotia: Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT)

Whatever you may call a mental health professional it is important to choose one who is licensed to treat you. To do this, I always suggest doing an online research, asking direct questions in consultation and finding out if the therapist you’re considering is registered with any legitimate mental health governing body in your province.

Tip: Remember each mental health professional mentioned above is considered a healthcare practitioner as such your receipts for services rendered (if paid out of pocket) can be claimed on your yearly taxes in the year in which the service was provided.

I hope this helps!

In light and love,


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