What’s the difference between a social worker, counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist?!

I professionally identify as a social worker and a counsellor. I think I would also fit into the definition of a psychotherapist but it’s a term that I don’t identify strongly. I have a Bachelor of Social Work and a Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling so those titles fit most comfortably for me.

Social Workers: A social worker needs am accredited Bachelor of Social Work or a Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) degree by the Australian Association of Social Workers to use the title.

Counsellors/Psychotherapist: A counsellor/psychotherapist in Australia doesn’t require any training or qualification to use the title though there are many different programs/degrees that teach counselling and psychotherapy. There are two voluntary registration bodies: the ACA (Australian Counselling Association) and PAFCA (Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia).

Psychologist: A psychologist must have completed a 4 year Bachelor of Psychology, then Honours or post-graduate diploma, then a Masters degree or 2 years supervised internship. A Clinical psychologist is a psychologist with a Masters of Clinical Psychology, while a Registered Psychologist does not have a Masters.

Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a registered doctor who can prescribe medication. Sometimes they are trained in psychotherapy but often are not. Often only get consulted when a client needs to adjust their medication and not for therapeutic services. Many trained GPs will be able to provide the same medication management.

So who should you see?

It depends on your needs. I am, of course, biased as I am a social worker and I believe we work holistically. It really depends on how you click with specific practitioners and how their specialities meet your needs.

I don’t think titles matter as much as how much you would get out of it. I’ve seen a variety of mental health professionals for both personal counselling and professional supervision – including counsellors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists.

If you think we would click well together then shoot me an email at: nichemichelle@gmail.com and we can chat more.


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