Clinical counsellor and psychotherapists are essentially the same thing. They use therapeutic skills grounded in mental health evidence-based research to help people relieve emotional pain, learn new skills, and gain insights from certain concerns such as trauma, career, relationships, identity, and addiction to name a few. Currently, the province of British Columbia has not established a College to regulate counsellors. However, there are three major registering bodies for counsellors in BC: BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC), the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), and the BC Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (BCAMFT). A counsellor registered to one of these professional organizations will have at least a Master’s degree in the field of psychology, have met rigorous standards for internships, and adhere to a code of ethics.
In BC, Registered Psychologists (R.Psych) are regulated by the College of Psychologists of British Columbia and will have either a PhD or a PsyD. In addition to clinical counselling, psychologists are specifically trained in the development of research and the administration of specialized psychological tests and assessments. They may also diagnose and treat mental illness. While they may have training in the uses of medication for mental illness, they do not prescribe medication.
A psychiatrist is someone who has a degree in medicine (a medical doctor) and has specialized training in diagnosing and treating mental illness, emotional disorders, and behavioural issues. They may prescribe medication and, in BC, are licensed and regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
‘Therapist’ is an umbrella term for someone who is skilled in some form of therapy. This could mean a massage therapist, physiotherapist, or applicable to any of the aforementioned terms.