What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist and social worker?

Psychiatrist: Has a medical degree and specialization in psychiatry, which generally focuses on the prescription and management of psychotropic medication for psychological symptoms of concern. They can diagnose according to the DSM but generally do not provide more extensive psychoeducational assessments, as sometimes helpful with ADHD or learning disabilities (particularly for academic purposes). Psychiatrists prescribe medication and a small number of them may provide OHIP-covered psychotherapy. Covered by OHIP. Cost: Usually free.

Psychologist: Typically has a PhD in Clinical Psychology, although some provinces allow for practitioners to register at the Master’s level with upgraded certification. They can diagnose according to the DSM and provide psychoeducational assessments (e.g. as helpful in the case of ADHD, ASD, and/or learning disabilities). Psychologists cannot prescribe medication in Canada. Their services are often covered by most extended health (private insurance) benefits programs. Cost: Approximately $200-$300 per session.

Psychotherapist: Typically has a Masters degree in Psychotherapy, Counselling Psychology, or Counselling. They cannot provide formal assessment or diagnoses according to the DSM and cannot prescribe medication, although some, with specialized training, can provide consultation in this area and help clients identify possible symptoms of concern (e.g. through informal self-screening questionnaires) and make appropriate referrals/recommendations. Psychotherapy is often covered by most extended health (private insurance) benefits programs (not as much as psychologists, but coverage continues to increase). Cost: Approximately $100-$190 per session.

Social Worker: Typically has a Masters degree or undergraduate degree in Social Work. Some social workers are “clinical” social workers with more training in psychotherapy rather than “community” social work or other areas of social work. They cannot diagnose according to the DSM and cannot prescribe medication. Their services are covered for more private insurance than psychotherapists, although the private insurance landscape continues to change. Cost: Approximately $100-$175 per session.

Any of these clinicians should help you determine if their skills and areas of competency are in line with your needs.

Is therapy right for me?

Do you find yourself stuck in the same problem again and again? Do you experience feeling lost, hopeless, or “just getting by” on a regular basis? Do you commonly feel out of control of your emotions or situation? Are you overwhelmed with stress? Such experiences, among others, can motivate people to seek support in exploring new options and coping strategies to make lasting changes in their lives.

Seeking therapy is a personal choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, while other times it is in response to difficult or unexpected life transitions. Some seek guidance as they pursue their own personal growth and exploration. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges.

How can therapy help me?

Psychotherapy can provide a number of lasting benefits. Therapists can offer fresh, objective perspectives on difficult problems and point you in the direction of possible solutions. Psychotherapy also allows you to talk openly and confidentially about your concerns.

Through a therapeutic process, you can expect to:

  • Develop insight and awareness about yourself, your goals and values
  • Learn ways to cope
  • Regulate attentional and emotional challenges
  • Develop direction and motivation
  • Manage triggers
  • Cultivate healthier relationships
  • Find resolutions to longstanding concerns
  • Nurture your inner child
  • Transform and heal past hurts
  • Cultivate post-traumatic growth
  • Increase personal wellness
  • Gain a positive mindset
  • Improve communication, problem-solving, and organizational skills
  • Change old behaviour patterns and develop healthier habits
  • Pursue mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual integration 
  • Take charge of your life choices and feel more assertive
  • Reclaim a sense of empowerment and confidence
  • Restore balance in your life

Isn’t therapy expensive?

Unfortunately, most private psychotherapy and psychological services are not currently covered by OHIP and many Canadians are accustomed to accessing publicly funded healthcare. As a result, it can seem expensive to pay a health care provider by the hour. We get it. Embarking on a therapeutic journey can be considered an investment towards your quality of life and your future. Research has found many correlations between stress and mental health concerns and physical ailments, so maintaining mental wellness is a practical part of healthy living. Ask yourself how much living with your current difficulty is costing you in the long run. A few brief sessions may be all you need to work through your concern.

Our services are covered by most extended health benefits programs. Check with your provider for further information.

If cost is holding you back from getting the support you need, we have options for you. In addition to offering services on a sliding fee scale,* we also provide the opportunity to work with Master’s level Qualifying Registered Psychotherapists under the supervision of Registered Psychotherapists* in an effort to make wellness accessible to everyone.

*Subject to limited availability.

When weighing the pros and cons of psychotherapy, consider how much your challenge is currently costing you financially, socially, and physically. Ask yourself if this is something you’re willing to maintain or if you’d like to see changes in your life. Psychotherapy can be seen as a long-term investment in yourself and your well-being.

To see if it’s a good fit for you, call for a free consultation!

Call 647.492.7254

Healing with your heart in mind

verified by Psychology Today
Professional Seal for Anna Marson