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What are the differences among psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and counselors?

The main differences among psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and counsellors are their academic background, professional training and ways of treatment.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who obtain a specialty in psychiatry after their training in medical school. They adopt a medical perspective to fully understand patients’ physical and mental functioning by using the knowledge of pharmacology, psychology, social aspect and daily lives to help patients manage their mental illness, restoration of their health, prevent relapse and help them reintegrate into the community.


Clinical psychologists and counsellors are not medical doctors. They do not and cannot prescribe medications. Clinical psychologists usually hold a bachelor degree in psychology (or equivalent) and a master/doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists can conduct a variety of psychological assessments in the following areas: intelligence, memory, brain function, dyslexia, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, personality, mood and behavior, etc. In the process of psychotherapy, clinical psychologists would adopt the theories of psychology and psychopathology to help clients deal with their problems usually through face-to-face interview. When necessary, they will cooperate with psychiatrists to provide the most appropriate treatment(s) to the clients.


Counselors have received professional counseling training. The counselors of our center have completed master degree in counseling. In the counseling process, they mainly use the theories and techniques of psychology and counseling usually through face-to-face interview to help clients deal with their difficulties, enhance adaptability, reduce emotional distress, change misbehaviors, improve interpersonal and family relationships, promote personal growth. When necessary, counselors will cooperate with clinical psychologists or psychiatrists to provide the most appropriate treatment(s) to the clients.