What’s the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Counsellor? What do I need?

Do I need a Psychologist or a Counsellor?

This is a question I am often asked.  The short answer is, it depends.  But first, it would be helpful to summarize the similarities and the differences between the two.

Counsellors / Therapists:

  • Have a Master’s Degree typically in a mental health field such as Counselling Psychology or Social Work.  
  • Often have additional credentials through a professional body like the BC Association for Clinical Counsellors (BCACC).  Accredited Counsellors are referred to as Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC).
  • Are qualified to provide psychotherapy for emotional, mental health, and relational issues using a variety of clinical modalities such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or emotionally focused therapy (EFT).
  • Are sometimes covered under extended health plans.
  • Rates typically range from $125 – $175/hr, plus GST.


  • Typically have a Doctorate Degree (PhD or PsyD).
  • Are governed by the College of Psychologists.  Accredited Psychologists are referred to as Registered Psychologists (RPsych).
  • In addition to being qualified to provide psychotherapy (as with Counsellors), Psychologists are also qualified to perform assessments and diagnose mental illnesses and disorders.
  • Are often covered under extended health plans.
  • Rates typically range from $200 – $250/hr (no tax for therapy or assessments).

So if you are seeking an assessment for a mental health diagnosis, it would make sense to see a psychologist.  But if you are requiring psychotherapy services, both counsellors and psychologists are qualified. 

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