In many circles, the terms psychology and psychotherapy are considered to be so linked that a psychologist may be identified as a psychotherapist and vice versa. In reality, these closely related disciplines are a little different. The situation is further complicated by the fact that a psychotherapist is often also a psychologist. To help people understand the differences and how the two overlap, here is some basic information you should know.
Psychology is actually the study of people and the way their minds work. It also focuses on how those inner workings of the mind manifest in the actions of people. The study gets into the details of emotions, behavior, and the way the person relates to the world in general.
Many people study psychology and may even use the basics as resources in their careers. Others choose a career in psychology and devote themselves to helping people work through emotional situations that are negatively impacting their lives.
A psychologist may open a private practice and provide one on one counselling for patients. Others will work for institutions like hospitals, clinics, asylums, or even law enforcement. In all of these examples, the focus is on understanding the emotional state of an individual and what has led to whatever actions or feelings that individual is experiencing.
Psychotherapy is a specialized discipline within the realm of psychiatry. In many cases, a psychotherapist is already trained as a psychiatrist or psychologist. However, there are mental help professionals who specifically focus on psychotherapy from the beginning and do not have prior training in psychiatry.
Psychotherapists typically provide much of the same support offered by psychologists. That includes services like individual and group ADHD coaching, holding retreats for couples or for groups of employees, and providing counselling for people struggling with conditions like panic disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
One important difference with psychotherapists is that they are trained as medical doctors. This means they have the authorization to prescribe medications if a patient's condition warrants such a measure. Many also have admission privileges at hospitals and other types of medical institutions. A psychologist, while trained in counselling and various forms of talk therapy, does not have the medical background that would allow the professional to prescribe medication.
The range of psychotherapy counselling services includes group as well as individual counselling. That means it's possible for the professional to offer support to couples at a personal retreat. That same individual will be fully versed in treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, arts and play therapies, and other approaches designed to help clients move through difficult phases of life and put whatever is bothering them into perspective.
Both psychologists and psychotherapists provide valuable support for their clients. If you are going through a difficult period, don't feel you must face it alone. Time spent with a counsellor can help you come to terms with whatever is happening and begin to find the answers that help you move on to a better phase in your life.