What a great question! We have all been in a position to ask ourselves about this... what are the differences between these titles?
If you are looking for the answer to that question, this post is right for you, so keep reading! At the Collective, we hope that knowing more about this will help you decide which provider you might need or want to work with and help you know what to look for along your therapeutic journey.
We have outlined the different kinds of providers that exist, their education level and more. Ultimately, it will be your choice to decide, and if ever you need any help, email us or give us a call and we can help you get started with the right person.
Psychiatrists in Ontario are medical doctors that hold an MD or a DO. They likely did their residency in psychiatry throughout medical school. They can diagnose, provide assessments and prescribe medication to you. They typically do not offer therapy but then can, and most often work in hospitals.
Look for: MD or DO as part of their credentials.
Psychologists in Ontario are individuals who have P.hD's and or PsyD's and are registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. They also have to remain in good standing with their regulating body by adhering to requirements from the college to engage in ongoing professional development, including supervision and education. Psychologists studied for many years (starting with an undergraduate degree, some have a master's and some went straight into their doctorates) and typically have a career in academia doing research and or clinically, doing assessments. They can diagnose, provide psychotherapy, supervise therapists and they generally do a lot for the community.
Look for: Phd or PsyD as part of their credentials
They cannot: prescribe medication.
Psychotherapists in Ontario are individuals who have at least a master's degree in counselling or clinical psychology, social work and or some spiritual degrees focusing on spiritually or religious focused therapy. Fun Fact! Psychologists sometimes call themselves psychotherapists - it just refers to the focus of their work. These individuals also have to be registered with the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario and be in good standing with their regulating body, meaning they also have to adhere to ongoing professional development standards including supervision and education.
Psychotherapists have an undergraduate degree, usually in psychology or related field, and a master's degree in either clinical or counselling psychology. Their focus is on treating individuals and working with clients through therapy. They often specialize in certain populations and have additional training to work with specific issues. They can and often do work with psychologists helping them with assessments.
Look for: RP as part of their credentials.
They cannot: prescribe medication or diagnose you.
Social workers are individuals with either an undergraduate degree and/or a master's degree and they can be registered with the College of Social Workers of Ontario and/or The College of Psychotherapists of Ontario. Fun fact! They can be both! Each regulating body has their own standards and - if registered in both or either of theses colleges, these individuals have to adhere to the standards of those colleges. Social workers and psychotherapists differ in skills at times mainly in that some social workers prefer to work in community support rather than therapeutically and so naturally their strengths are there. Some prefer to focus their careers therapeutically and have excellence in that department. Despite differences in required amounts of supervision and practicum hours, the CRPO allows these individuals to use the protected term psychotherapy so long as they are registered and in good standing. There aren't too many differences in the way psychotherapists and social workers practice.
Look for MSW, RSW and or RP as part of their credentials
They cannot: prescribe medication or diagnose you.
Coaches are individuals who are providing an unregulated service, similar to counsellors. These individuals can and often do offer advise, are motivationally inclined and can be a great support when trying to reach goals and grow personally. They often have a wealth of personal experience to use and share and can have great insight. They may be certified by a local, national or international coaching board. However, again, these are unregulated services.
They cannot: treat a mental health diagnosis, provide psychotherapy, diagnose you or prescribe medication.
Counsellors (many people use this term) can be a mix of people! Sometimes, psychotherapists, psychologists and social workers call themselves counsellors (this is why it is important to understand the necessary education and qualifications); sometimes, people who have a lot of life experience call themselves counsellors and that is fine because they are not registered with a regulatory body. Counsellors can and often do, offer advise, support life changes and offer supportive counselling. Counselling is not a protected term whereas, psychotherapy is, but some counsellors can register with an association such as the CCPA.
See our blog post on associations versus regulatory bodies to learn about the difference between the two!
Look for: CCC as part of their credentials.
They cannot (unless they ARE psychotherapists or psychologists): treat a mental health diagnosis, provide psychotherapy, diagnose or prescribe you medication
With all of this information you should know more about the kind of practitioners out there, their degrees and what licensing body they have to be registered with. There are some things we might have missed, but we hope that this post will be a helpful guide. Still, no matter the degree, education or license, you can't know just by that if they are a "good" therapist or if they will be the right for you. As a consumer, be sure to check and ask questions about their credentials and training to make sure they are offering services ethically and within their scope.
At the collective, we highly recommend interviewing several therapists before making a final decision. See our blog post called "Questions to ask during an initial consultation" to help you in the process.