Linda Ann’s Answer
A psychiatrist has a medical degree followed by a residency and/or fellowship to become a psychiatrist. The length of time in an educational setting is as follows: undergraduate degree in pre-medicine (4 years); medical school (4 years); internship and then residency (2 years); fellowship (another 2 years or so). Most psychiatrist today do NOT "do therapy." Instead they write prescriptions for psychoactive medications and monitor their patients responses to that medication periodically, oftentimes with blood work done by a laboratory.
A "mental health counselor" is a catch-all phrase that could pertain to many different academic disciplines: psychology, occupational therapy, social work. Such a person would at least have a master's degree and licensing to provide such services to clients. The amount of time in an educational setting would be significantly less than for medical school (4 years for an undergraduate degree plus at least another 2 years or perhaps more, as a function of the type of credentialing one wants to obtain).
Linda Ann recommends the following next steps:
- Go to the website of the American Counseling Association and look at credentialing for "Licensed Professional Counselor."
- Peruse college websites for those that have medical schools. Find out about their respective admission rates and requirements.
- Go to the website of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to find out about the academic disciplines that are tested for this test that all medical schools in the USA require.