Who is what

Who is what

Psychologist, mental health counsellor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst. What is exactly each one of them and what are the differences between them?

A person holding the title of Psychologist is a graduate of a Psychology department of a greek public higher education institution (HEI). Additionally, use of the title is permitted for individuals who have acquired recognition in Greece for their Psychology degree from an institution of higher education abroad.

A mental health consultant is a graduate of a private higher education institution, active either in  greek territory or abroad, who specialises in Psychology. A mental health consultant is prohibited by law from using the title of Psychologist.

A graduate Psychologist is considered a Psychotherapist, as long as they have trained in psychotherapy for at least three years. In other words, they have become specialised in a psychotherapeutic model that they implement in their everyday practice. They are also able to provide diagnoses using certified psychometric evaluations. The greatest difference from a Psychiatrist is that a Psychologist is not legally allowed to prescribe medication. The orientation of the profession of Psychologist rule out medication. However, in cases where it is considered necessary, the psychologist can refer their client to a trusted psychiatrist.

A Psychiatrist is a Medical School graduate who specialises in Psychiatry. They are legally allowed to provide diagnoses and prescribe medication, if they consider it necessary. A lot of psychiatrists are additionally trained in a specific model of psychotherapy; in that case, they are also psychotherapists. Often, but not always, psychotherapy with a psychiatrist involves medication.

It is important to note that a bachelor’s degree in psychology or medical school does not legally enable the holder to practice psychotherapy. Training in psychotherapy is required. Unfortunately,  the profession of Psychotherapist is not legislatively regulated in Greece, thus enabling anyone to abuse the title without fulfilling any specific requirements for practicing psychotherapy. The interested party is obliged to ask about the first-level degree and psychotherapy training of the professional whom they are  contacting, if they wish to ensure a minimum of service quality.

In psychotherapy circles a lot of theoretical approaches and models are involved, such as psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, systemic, client-centric, Gestalt, existentialist. Depending on the theoretical training a psychologist receives, they are given the corresponding title. For example, a psychologist trained in the psychoanalytic approach is termed a psychoanalyst, one trained in the cognitive-behavioural approach is called a cognitive-behavioural therapist, training in systemic therapy results in the title of systemic therapist, and so on.