A Psychiatrist believes that the cause of emotional disturbance is due to chemical imbalances in the human body. Hormonal changes, thyroid malfunctions, erratic brain functions, etc. Their job is correction of those chemical imbalances by medication and/or ECT’s. They are most oftenNOT trained in psychotherapy even though many may write Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. It is important to understand if your emotional disturbance is a result of chemical imbalance or are you largely distressed because of certain faulty ideas and philosophies you are nurturing? Please check the credentials of the Psychiatrist particularly if you seek him/her out for Psychotherapeutic help.
Psychotherapists are people who believe that largely people disturb themselves due to their faulty, defective, thinking. They are NOT medically trained and hence are not legally permitted to prescribe medication. Their understanding of disturbance is that there is no chemical cause of disturbance (something that a Psychiatrist would treat). Their treatment is simply in the reconstruction of a person’s outlook, attitude, philosophy, which they believe is the culprit in the persons distress. Psychiatrists hold MD (Doctor of Medicine, Psychiatry) degrees. Psychotherapists hold MA, plus an affiliation of a particular school. (Eg. Master of Arts in Psychology, Associate Fellow & Supervisor, The Albert Ellis Institute, New York City, U.S.A.)
Most Clinical Psychologists in India are not trained in Psychotherapy. They usually are trained in the administration of Psychometric Tests (Conducting IQ, Ink Blot, Diagnostic Tests). It is important that you ask the Psychotherapist which School of Psychotherapy he practices (There are 360+ schools of psychotherapy today) and where and how he has acquired those qualifications.
There is no difference between a counselor and a therapist. The terms are synonymous. However, there are several self-styled counselors who have done 1 year or 2 years short-term courses. Be vigilant and aware that the person you seek help from is professionally qualified. There are a dime a dozen quacks floating around and they may do more damage than good.