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  • Writer's pictureSpring Berriman

What is the Difference Between a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist and a Psychotherapist?

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Learn the difference between each type of therapist

Woman wonders which type of therapist should I choose?

As a Registered Psychotherapist, I am often asked what the difference is between each type of therapist, including a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a psychotherapist. While all three study people’s thoughts, emotions and brains, there are some major differences in what we all do.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the biological study of brain chemistry. They prescribe medications to rebalance this brain chemistry to help their patients regain equilibrium in their lives. To see a psychiatrist in Ontario, you need a referral from your doctor and OHIP covers this.

Key takeaway: Psychiatrists are covered by OHIP with a referral from your family doctor and able to diagnose and prescribe medications.


Psychologists hold a PhD in the science of behaviour. They do not prescribe medications but often work as researchers, practice in schools, hospitals, clinics and private offices as consultants and counsellors. Psychologists provide Intellectual functioning, behavioural and personality assessments i.e. ADHD and ASD assessments, that can benefit workplace accommodations.

Key takeaway: Psychologists are not covered by OHIP and are important in the discovery and diagnosis of mental health disorders, learning disabilities and behavioural problems.


Psychotherapists are more flexible and have the ability to provide a wider range of therapies and a diverse variety of services. We strive to help you change your own behaviour and thought patterns and fill your inner toolbox with resources to help you cope, thrive and succeed in daily life. We work in private practice or clinics as well as government and community organizations. We’ll often work alongside psychiatrists in a treatment plan for clients.

The range of topics we help clients with includes:

· Stress and Anxiety Management

· Personal and Life Transitions

· Self Esteem, Confidence and Self Care Development

· Depression Support

· Grief Processing

· Trauma and Resiliency

Key takeaway: Psychotherapists are not covered by OHIP and cannot diagnose. Psychotherapists are often the first line of defence with mental health and wellness and often work with psychiatrists and psychologists in creating a circle of care for this clients.

As a psychotherapist, there are times I feel a client may benefit from consulting with a psychiatrist, or a client is seeking a diagnosis in addition to psychotherapy with additional are provided through medication. This is why I made the choice to join PMVC, Psychotherapy Matter Virtual Clinic. It's a collaborative care approach, meaning I'll be in the session with the client and psychiatrist. The best part is that the psychiatry appointment is covered by OHIP, so there is no fee to the client with the exception of my normal session fee. This just one way that psychotherapists in Ontario are working towards getting their clients the help and support they need.


Spring Berriman is a Registered Psychotherapist with the CRPO (the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario), working and offering psychotherapy services online. If you have questions or would like to book a free consultation you can call 647-297-9235 or email

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