What is the difference: counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, and psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe neuropharmacological support – i.e., medication.

A psychologist is not a medical doctor and, therefore cannot prescribe medication. A psychologist can make a diagnosis for a client, for example, depression, ADHD, personality disorders, etc.

The line between counsellor and psychotherapist is not so clearly defined. While both professionals aim to improve a client’s mental health, a counsellor focuses on problem-solving in the present while a psychotherapist helps a client to gain insight and discover parts of self that are unknown to the client. This requires a client to revisit his past.  For example, if you are going through a difficult breakup, a counsellor might focus on helping you to find the most effective coping during this challenging period of your life; whilst a psychotherapist might focus on finding out why and how you are attracted to your partner, your triggers in the relationship, the communication patterns between you and your partner, and how it might be similar to the way your parents relate to each other. 

What is the frequency of therapy?

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to session frequency. I would recommend weekly therapy for the first 5-8 sessions at least to establish a rapport between the client and the therapist. Thereafter, both parties shall review the therapeutic progress and readjust the frequency according to the client’s needs.

Do you prescribe medication?

No, I do not prescribe medication.

Do you make a diagnosis?

No, I do not make any diagnosis. I can refer you to a clinical psychologist for diagnosis if my preliminary assessment warrants such a need.

What is the most effective mode of therapy?

While different modes suit different individuals, I would suggest starting with online therapy for the ease of kickstarting the process. When it comes to change, we often experience inertia and internal resistance. Therefore, online sessions can help to remove entry barriers such as physical location, budget, and time constraints. Once a therapeutic alliance is established between the client and the therapist, in-person sessions might help enhance the effectiveness of therapy.