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Should I See a Counsellor, Therapist or Psychologist in Calgary?

So you’ve chosen to take charge of your mental health and are looking for a professional to help you make sense of your lifestyle and personality. You get inspired and search for “mental health professionals around me,” but instead of a straightforward response, you get pages and pages of entries.

Some are intended for psychologists, some for psychiatrists, and still others for counsellors or therapists.

How can you know which one is required? What is the distinction between these mental health care providers?

Today, we’ll review what these various titles signify and offer. Afterward, you’ll be able to determine which one is most suited to your requirements.

Understanding the Different Counselling Services

You can pick a professional to treat your mental health in the same way that you might go to a cardiologist, a neurosurgeon, or a podiatrist for difficulties affecting different sections of your body. Although the words counsellor, therapist, and psychologist are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some important distinctions between them.

What Do Counsellors Do?

Until 2018, the term counsellor was relatively permissive to use – there were no protection or training requirements. Thus anybody could be a counsellor (at least in name). In December 2018, the Association of Counselling Therapy of Alberta was formed to provide new protected titles for counsellors and basic certification guidelines.

Historically, there was no educational need for counsellors, but this is changing. Many of them now not only receive training, certificates, and degrees in fields such as addictions or adolescent therapy but also follow codes of conduct and other ethical criteria. Counsellors are generally regarded as “short-term” aides, as opposed to psychologists’ sometimes years-long connections.

How Are Therapists Similar to Counsellors?

Therapists are pretty similar to counsellors – their duties sometimes overlap – but they typically have a more specific degree to underpin their offers. Titles such as “licensed counselling therapist” are protected, so who may claim to be one is limited. To be anything more than a simple “therapist,” a license, authorized qualifications, degree, or certificate are required: psychotherapist, addictions therapist, registered social worker, and so on. Many psychologists are therapists, for example, but this is not always the case.

Therapists may have a broad interest in human behaviour and be able to provide high-level assistance and new views to practically all clients. They also offer more particular insights within their field of specialization training.

Some of them may employ clinical therapy approaches, while others may not. As you can see, the word therapist has a wide range of talents. Therefore you need carefully examine their credentials to know whether they are ideal for you.

How Are Psychologists Different?

“Psychologist” is a protected term in Canada, referring to those who have completed a specific degree of study and certification and are in good standing with a regulating body. 

Psychologists research how individuals think, feel, and act scientifically and use this information to help people understand and modify their mental health behaviour.

Psychologists must have at least a Master’s degree and, in some instances, a Ph.D. in psychology. Depending on their work, several years of extra training and license may also be a requirement. They declare a specialty, such as in child psychology or certain mental diseases, and utilize their knowledge of validated and established approaches (such as the Gottman Method) to assist people in overcoming these conditions.

Many psychologists move on to professions in academic research, criminal justice, neurology, and various other disciplines.


Counsellors, therapists, and psychologists are all health professionals who provide mental health services. They differ in their training, experience, and focus of practice. You may be referred to one depending on your mental health condition.

Are you in need of Calgary counselling services? Virtuous Circle Counselling can help you understand where you are right now and healthy ways to cope. Book your online appointment today!

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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.