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What are the differences with being a clinical-therapist, therapist, and psychologist?

Are there differences between these? Or are they different ways to refer to the same thing? Can you apply for these jobs all with the same degree?

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Bill’s Answer

Hi Alex!

A clinical psychologist is a mental health practitioner who typically completes specialized training and earns certification for diagnosing and treating psychological, mental, behavioral and emotional disorders and illnesses, including personality disorders, attention deficit disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Common duties and responsibilities include:

Meeting with clients to evaluate and assess emotional, mental or behavioral disorders or problems
Diagnosing existing or potential illnesses
Providing psychological treatment
Working with a psychiatrist if patients require prescriptions
Provide consultations for agencies, organizations, businesses, and other various groups
Collaborating with medical doctors, counselors, and psychiatrists
Providing training and education for psychology students and those working in the mental health field
Administrating and interpreting psychological assessments
Conducting research, publishing their findings, and implementing other research-based practices
Researching human behavior, thought processes and emotions

What is a therapist?
A therapist, often referred to as a “counselor,” commonly provides counseling or psychotherapy services to their clients to teach them coping skills for their specific issues or conditions and help them manage life challenges to improve their overall mental health. Traditional therapy is the process of meeting and talking with clients to help resolve problematic feelings, beliefs, behaviors and relationship issues.

Common duties and responsibilities include:

Interviewing, observing and assessing clients through talking and conversation
Guiding clients through healthy decision-making processes
Using talk therapy techniques to support clients
Leading group therapy sessions
Developing a treatment plan with the client to meet their specific goals for therapy
Collaborating with other providers such as medical doctors or school counselors, with the client's permission
Referring clients to other therapies that may be beneficial for them and their mental health
Clinical psychologists vs. therapists
Clinical psychologists and therapists also differ in training, salaries and specialties:

Education
Even though a clinical psychologist and a therapist both have training and experience working with mental health clients, their levels of education differ. Clinical psychologists are required to first complete a bachelor's degree, then obtain a master's and finally a doctorate, typically a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

A Doctor of Education (EdD) may qualify depending on state license requirements. Certification may also be a requirement for specialty care. Typically, clinical psychologists also continue their education and training to maintain their licenses.

A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for mental health therapists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can often work with a bachelor's degree alone, but mental health counselors typically require a master's degree and internship experience.

Some counselors require a state-issued license. Many therapists obtain master's degrees in their specialty area such as marriage and family therapy, from institutions accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Typically, therapists also continue their education and training to maintain their licenses.

Licenses and credentials
Clinical psychologists receive a license from their state's psychology board. Each state has different requirements regarding education, internships and work experience. After obtaining state licensure, they're eligible to take the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

Therapists are also required to hold state licensure and requirements vary by state. They also earn professional certifications in one of several categories, including:

Licensed professional counselor (LPC)
Licensed clinical alcohol and drug abuse counselor (LCADAC)
Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
Salaries
The national average salary for a clinical psychologist is $106,674 per year. The highest-paying cities include Brooklyn, Sacramento, and San Diego. The national average salary for a therapist is $74,849 per year. The highest-paying cities include:

New York, New York
Los Angeles, California
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Atlanta, Georgia
Jackson, Florida

Psychologist and therapist specialties
There are a number of specialty care areas for clinical psychologists and therapists. Each requires specific levels of education and certification. Here's an overview of the various types of psychologists and therapists:

Types of psychologists
Some specialty fields for clinical psychologists include:

Child psychologist
Child psychologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health problems. They may work in conjunction with a pediatrician, school personnel and even within the social work sector.

Because they specialize in mental health for young children and teens, child psychologists may undergo education and studies that focus solely on the young, developing brain, including mental and behavioral health disorders.

Developmental psychologist
Developmental psychologists provide care, diagnosis and psychological treatment for patients with developmental disorders, delays and other issues related to developing cognitive and physiological processes within the brain and body.

These mental health practitioners may choose to work solely with a specific age group such as young adults in their 20s, or special needs patients that exhibit cognitive or physiological disorders like autism and Down syndrome.

Educational psychologist
Educational psychologists specialize in working with students and how learning takes place in the brain. These mental health practitioners may diagnose and treat mental disorders related to learning disabilities, processing disorders and behavioral disorders.

Educational psychologists may be employed by public school systems, universities and colleges or head educational departments through the social services sector. They may also work for local education boards and travel to schools, community centers and student and parents' homes to conduct appointments, assessments and evaluations.

Forensic psychologist
A forensic psychologist may work in a variety of legal applications. They most commonly perform mental examinations mandated by the state they work in to evaluate criminal defendants. This can include violence risk assessments and evaluating legal insanity and competency to stand trial. They may also work with civil law cases, child custody and family law cases.

Rehabilitation psychologist
A rehabilitation psychologist helps patients with chronic diseases or disabilities to develop coping strategies for the mental and physical strain their disorders present. These mental health practitioners may work in the social services sector or privately with rehabilitation facilities.

Types of therapists
Specialty fields for therapists include:

Counselor
Counselors typically guide individual clients, couples and families who are dealing with issues affecting their emotional health and well-being. They may work in schools, health care clinics or private practices that promote a wellness approach to emotional health and healing.

Psychotherapist
Psychotherapists use cognitive and behavioral strategies to help clients cope with mental and behavioral disorders like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder. They commonly work alongside a licensed psychiatrist to help monitor patients during medication cycles while offering evaluation and talk therapy sessions.

Interpersonal therapist
Interpersonal therapists work with clients like a psychotherapist does to identify and evaluate mental health problems and focus on teaching communication and relationship skills that help clients improve relationships and better manage conflicts in relationships. They typically use a variety of talk and cognition therapy methods to help patients cope with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, mood disorders, attachment and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Rational emotive behavioral therapist
Behavioral therapists frequently apply active-directive and empirical psychotherapy strategies to help patients resolve emotional and behavioral issues and focus on rational behaviors and beliefs. Schools and social services may employ them to work with children with behavioral and emotional disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral and cognitive disorders affecting the way children perform in their daily lives.

I hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for this detailed response, it helps a ton! Alex
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