This is one of the most commonly asked questions. All three of these mental health professions are used to assist individuals with mental health issues and/or concerns. The primary differences are in their level of education and what they are qualified to do.
Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) and Certified Clinical Counsellors (CCC) will have a Masters degree (MA, MEd, MC) and are qualified to assess and treat mental health concerns and diagnoses. Counsellor fees are generally lower than psychologist and psychiatrist fees. They are not able to prescribe medications.
In BC, a RCC or CCC has a Master’s degree, has met specific eligibility criteria, and has undergone specific supervision and clinical hour requirements to become registered. They also have strict guidelines for professional and ethical behaviour. The term “counsellor” is not yet protected in Canada. This means that anyone can call themselves a counsellor without having the expertise that a RCC or CCC has. Make sure to ask your counsellor for their credentials to ensure the most qualified service.
Psychologists in BC will have a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) and are qualified to assess, treat, and diagnose mental health concerns. They are not able to prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) who are qualified to assess, treat, and diagnose mental health concerns. They may also prescribe medication.