Therapist vs Psychologist: What’s the Difference?

1 in 5 people in America have a mental illness. Thankfully though, there are plenty of experienced mental health professionals to turn to for support. But with many different roles and job titles, it can be tricky to know who to seek for help.

One area of confusion revolves around psychologists and therapists. These two terms are often mixed up, but there are notable distinctions between them. Want to learn more about how they differ?

Here are the primary differences between a therapist vs psychologist.


Both therapists and psychologists strive to improve people’s mental and emotional lives, but their respective roles on a day-to-day basis vary. Psychologists, for instance, can work in both research and clinical settings. Unlike psychiatrists, they cannot prescribe medication though. Their clinical practice involves the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. They help people manage their conditions and overcome addictions and stressful life events.

Therapists, on the other hand, are not involved in research and devote their time to simply delivering therapy. They may have a role in the diagnosis, but their support is focused on the treatment. They’re known for a more holistic approach and focusing on the client’s emotional state.


At a macro level, any psychologist in Tampa or around the country look to the latest medical research and behavioral science to adjust treatment. Therapists, by contrast, use their strong theoretical background and relevant philosophical ideas instead.

At a micro level, psychologists (unless their work is 100% research-based) and therapists both deliver talk therapy as a primary treatment approach. This may include specific techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example.

However, psychologists also conduct things such as structured clinical assessments and therapists may not have gone through the training to perform these kinds of tasks.

Training and Qualifications

Another similarity between psychologists and therapists is that they have some level of higher education. They’ll also hold state certifications and licenses that permit them to work in their respective disciplines.

The main difference in this area is a matter of the degree. Although many therapists do hold PhDs, they aren’t obligatory, as in most states a master’s degree is the requirement. This isn’t the case for psychologists though, who need a PhD or doctorate in psychology (PsyD) to practice in the field.

Remember the Differences between a Therapist vs Psychologist

Tens of millions of Americans could benefit from seeing a mental health professional.

After summoning the courage to seek help, it’s important to find the right person for the job, and with a confusing array of titles to choose from, that task can be easier said than done.

If you are struggling with who to choose, we hope the insights in this article have helped you. Keep the differences between a therapist vs psychologist in mind and you should be a step closer to accessing the necessary support.

Are you looking for a psychologist or therapist in Tampa? Are you interested in ABA therapy in Tampa or psychoeducational testing in Tampa? Click here to discover how we can help and book a consultation today.