NCS | What do the different therapist titles mean?

We have officially changed our name to the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society!

Information for members

As of the 15th of May 2023, we have officially changed our name to the National Counselling and Psychotherapy Society (NCPS).

Our new and improved website is coming soon!

What is the difference between a Counsellor, a Psychotherapist, a Psychoanalyst and a Psychiatrist?

There is some overlap, (and some different opinions) – and also some difference between these various titles. If you are unsure this is something you can ask your therapist about. They should be able to explain clearly to you how you will work together and what you can expect.

  • Chartered Psychologist

    Chartered Psychologist is a professional recognition for psychologists and reflects a high standard of psychological knowledge and expertise.

  • Clinical Psychologists

    Clinical Psychologists undergo further specialist training to qualify in 'talking' therapies. They are able to assess and treat patients but they are not medical doctors and do not prescribe drugs. They may also have received some training in counselling skills. The way they understand and approach their patients may or may not be very different from how most counsellors relate to their clients, depending on which theories they favour.

  • Counselling Psychologist

    A Counselling Psychologist is a counsellor who has an initial training in psychology and who uses methods and models drawn from the science of psychology in his or her work.

  • Counsellors / Psychotherapeutic Counsellors / Psychotherapists

    Both counsellors and psychotherapists will have training in both the theory and practice of how to work with a variety of people with a wide range of emotional distress and whose lives may be affected by both external factors (job loss, bereavement) and internal issues (low self-esteem, anxiety). Counselling and psychotherapy are closely related and the skills and knowledge needed are very similar. Counsellors are generally considered more likely to do shorter-term work focusing on particular problems such as addiction and bereavement, while psychotherapists are often thought encourage a deeper, more fundamental process of change in clients who seem to require it. That being said, many counsellors work in the way often used to describe psychotherapy, and psychotherapy also looks at short-term, focussed work.

  • Psychiatrists

    Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They can prescribe psychiatric medication. Although many psychiatrists have also received some training in psychotherapy and counselling skills, the way they understand and approach their patients is likely to be very different from how a counsellor relates to a client.

  • Psychoanalysts

    Psychoanalysts are practitioners of psychoanalytic psychotherapy within the tradition founded by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis places emphasis on the importance of unconscious forces in the way the mind works and requires a long and demanding training. Theories derived from psychoanalysis about human development and the practice of psychotherapy are an important influence for many counsellors.

  • Psychologists

    Psychologists study behaviour and mental processes. A psychologist usually means someone who has a degree in psychology, but legally anyone can call themselves a psychologist. Many work in research, in business or in education. They also administer and interpret psychological tests and assessments.

  • Find a Counsellor

    Find the help you need...If you are a potential client looking for a counsellor, you may search our registrants by location or name and you can also check whether someone is on the NCPS accredited register. A member of the Society may be a Registrant or a non-registrant member.

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  • Train as a Counsellor

    Use our Find a Course tool to find the nearest training providers who offer National Counselling Society Accredited, Advanced Specialist, Quality Checked or CPD courses. These courses are currently run across the the UK.

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