What's the difference??

As this website is focused more on psychology and on becoming a psychologist, the topic of other careers outside being a psychologist was not really looked at. This post would be looking at the differences between a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor and a social worker. Since this topic is going to be part of a talk I am going to do next month, here's a preview with more indepth research, including avenues you could do more research into.

So what are the differences between a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor and a social worker?? These are all considered as mental health professionals, with much overlap in training and services provided to the clients. The differentiation below would include differences in the education, work, and associations/societies in Singapore where you can find more information about each of them.


Psychologists: Mental health professionals who are trained in psychology up to postgraduate level in the different specifications of psychology, and involved with work including testing and assessment, research, psychoeducation (such as holding workshops) and psycho-therapeutic counselling. They usually work with clients with mental health issues and disorders.
Registration: Singapore Register of Psychologists
Membership: Singapore Psychological Society

PsychiatristsMental health professionals who are trained as medical practitioners but has then gone on to receive specialized training in treating mental disorders, usually a postgraduate degree or further training in Psychiatry. They are specialised in treating mental illness using the biomedical approach to mental disorders including the use of medications. The main difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is the prescription of medication and dealing with clients with medical disorders that require medication.
Registration: MOH Specialists Accreditation Board
Membership: Singapore Psychiatric Association

CounsellorsMental health professionals who are trained in counselling, through a postgraduate degree or Bachelors degree with further on-the-job training. As compared to psychologists, counsellors are more focused with helping people cope with more normal life problems, rather than mental health issues; however, there is a trend towards counsellors becoming more involved in helping individuals with more serious mental health problems including the same conditions addressed by psychologists, e.g. depression, anxiety, resulting in a confusion in the job titles of "Psychologist" and "Counsellor". Unlike psychologists, counsellors do not do psychological testing and assessment, and research, unless for academic-related work.
Registration: Singapore Association for Counselling / Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors (Singapore)
Membership: Singapore Association for CounsellingAssociation of Psychotherapists and Counsellors (Singapore)

Social WorkersMental health professionals who are trained (from Bachelors to postgraduate levels) to provide help to people in need and assist them to manage their problems more effectively. Professional social work is focused on problem solving and change, focusing on the role of social factors and interventions at the social level. Social workers are especially knowledgeable of what mental health services are available in the community and help empower their clients to obtain such services. They provide case management, counselling, information and referral, outreach and family intervention in the community. They can work with individuals and families in family service centres, children and youth centres, hospitals, hospices and other community/social service agencies. Compared with counsellors, their work are very similar, but social workers do more outreach work than a counsellor.
Registration: Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW)
Membership: Social Work Accreditation Board

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