skip to content

The Difference Between Psychotherapy, Psychology, Psychiatry, and Social Work

Understanding the Difference Can Help You to Make Informed Choices about Your Therapeutic Options

Within the field of mental health, there are several fields of study and approaches to treatment. For most people dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, life transitions, family issues, eating disorders, gender identity, and other issues, psychotherapy is the most common approach. See a more complete list of concerns that may lead you to choose psychotherapy.


A psychotherapist engages in a therapeutic relationship with you to talk about your challenges and reframe your thought patterns and life experiences to create meaningful change in your life. Psychotherapists see opportunity for growth in emotional health challenges. OSP members are also required to experience therapy to create empathy and understanding of the therapeutic process. 


Psychology is the study of the human mind and our behaviours, as individuals and as couples or groups, such as family groups. A psychologist has a Ph.D. in psychology and is trained to perform psychological research, testing, and therapy.


Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders with the goal of finding ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent them. This area of research assesses not only a person’s history and surroundings, but also physical factors that may contribute to mental health. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the assessment and treatment of such mental behavioral disorders. This is the person who prescribes and monitors medication.

Social Worker

A social worker is a helping professional who is focused on both the individual and his or her environment. Social workers perform interventions through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice and teaching.

More topics to help you understand psychotherapy:

We can also help you to find a therapist in your area.

Find a Therapist

There are qualified professionals in your area who can help you.

Search Now
Become a Member

Discover how we will support you and help you advance your practice

Apply Today
Welcome to our Members!

Log in to see what's new and manage your profile.

Log In Now