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10/10/2006

Are all therapists psychologists?

No. In addition to psychologists, there are other licensed professionals who can provide therapy and counseling.

Are all therapists with a Ph.D. also psychologists?
No. The Doctor of Philosophy degree is an academic award of the highest level - awarded in many different fields - but the degree is not enough to qualify someone to become a psychologist.

There are some marriage family therapists and social workers who have a Ph.D., and who can call themselves "Doctor," but who are not trained or licensed as a psychologist. Some therapists have Ph.D. degrees in fields that have nothing to do with psychology. "Dr. Laura" is a good example. She is not a psychologist and she is a Doctor of something that is completely unrelated to this field.

Is a "psychotherapist" the same as a psychologist?
No. Marriage counselors and social workers often use the title "psychotherapist," but they are not psychologists unless they have a psychology license. Most clinical psychologists devote at least part of their time to the practice of psychotherapy, but they will usually identify themselves correctly as a psychologist.

In a physician's office, you might receive care from a "physician's assistant" or a "nurse practitioner." The care you receive will probably be entirely adequate. But you wouldn't say that you actually "saw the Doctor." Practitioners who identify themselves only as "psychotherapists" are usually not psychologists.

What's the point?
The point is that if you are going to see a therapist , you need to know what type of license they have and what profession they belong to.

Often times, when people are distressed and seeking help, they fail to ask or to understand what type of professional they are actually seeing. If everything goes well, it is perhaps not much of a problem. But if there is a problem with the treatment, it can become very important to know.

Any psychologist from whom you seek consultation will be pleased to discuss their education, training, and credentials. And any therapist you see should tell you what type of license they have. Don't be afraid to ask.

Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi,Ph.D.