Last updated:

March 9, 2024


 min read

Therapy vs Psychiatry: Key Differences and When to Seek Help

Explore the distinctions between therapy and psychiatry, and learn when to seek each for mental health support. Discover how therapists and psychiatrists collaborate for holistic care at Rocket Health India.


Navigating the mental health care system can be difficult, especially when attempting to differentiate between psychiatry and therapy. Both are essential for fostering mental health, but their methods and practitioners are different.

In this article we will explore the definitions of therapy and psychiatry, the practitioners of these fields as well as when to seek out the assistance of a therapist and a psychiatrist. Furthermore, we will look into the ways in which therapists and psychiatrists work together to provide comprehensive and holistic care to all.

What is Therapy?

The goal of therapy, also referred to as counselling, is to enhance a person's emotional and psychological well-being. It entails discussing thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviours with a trained therapist in a private and secure setting allowing the clients to be their most vulnerable self.

Therapists use a variety of therapeutic approaches, such as mindfulness-based approaches, psychodynamic therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address a wide range of dysfunctions that clients may be experiencing, including anxiety, depression, interpersonal issues, and trauma. Clients work toward positive change in their life, gain insight about their problems, and collaboratively create healthy coping mechanisms for adaptive functioning through regular and consistent sessions.

What is Psychiatry?

Within the medical field, psychiatry focuses on the identification and management of mental, emotional, and behavioural health issues. Psychiatrists are medical professionals with the licensure to administer medication, carry out mental evaluations, and sometimes even offer therapeutic guidance.

They treat mental health patients comprehensively, taking into account social, psychological, and biological aspects of a patient's health. The field of psychiatry deals with many disorders such as neurodevelopmental disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and drug use disorders.

Who Can Practise Therapy in India?

Mental health practitioners, such as clinical psychologists and counselling psychologists, can offer therapy services in India. One of the main distinctions between the clinical and counselling branches of psychology is that the former concentrates on psychopathology, or the study of mental illnesses. Conversely, counselling psychologists assist patients or clients in addressing health-related stressors that include emotional, social, and physical. While both offer therapeutic interventions required for the well-being of the client, their scope differs.

They support their clients in overcoming obstacles in life by providing them with nonjudgmental guidance, empathy, and validation. Using joint goal-setting and active listening, psychologists enable people to overcome obstacles, develop resilience, and lead functioning lives.

A counselling psychologist, to practise, needs to have completed their masters in clinical or counselling psychology. They also constantly need to upskill themselves by doing various therapy-related courses. The same applies for a clinical psychologist, however, they need to also complete their M.Phil in clinical psychology. This also allows them to register to the Rehabilitation Council of India, a statutory body created by the government, as a qualified professional.

Who Can Practise Psychiatry in India?

Qualified psychiatrists who have finished medical school and a specialty residency in psychiatry can practise psychiatry in India. One needs to get their MBBS degree as well as enrol in a diploma or masters in psychiatry to be able to obtain a licence and practice as a psychiatrist in India.

In order to diagnose and treat mental disorders using a combination of medicine, psychotherapy, and supportive measures, they go through extensive study and training. Psychiatrists collaborate with other medical specialists such as counselling and clinical psychologists, to offer patients complete care in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, and community mental health centres.

Role of a Therapist: Counselling Psychologist vs. Clinical Psychologist

Counselling psychologists concentrate on assisting people in resolving relationship issues, overcoming obstacles at their workplace, and daily stressors. In addition to addressing a wide range of topics, counselling psychologists work with individuals, couples, families, and groups on career counselling, stress management, bereavement, and self-esteem building. Using a client-centred approach, counselling psychologists customise interventions to each client's particular needs and preferences, promoting positive outcomes and personal development.

Conversely, clinical psychologists are qualified to diagnose and manage more serious mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders to treat complicated psychological difficulties and promote rehabilitation. Clinical psychologists work in various settings to provide holistic care for their clients, such as academic institutions, hospitals, and mental health clinics. They carry out thorough assessments, create treatment programs, and offer interventions to reduce symptoms and encourage healing.

Role of a Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are essential in the treatment of mental health illnesses because they provide patients and their families with professional diagnosis, treatment, and continuous support. They identify symptoms, create treatment programs, track advancements over time, and modify treatment plans as necessary to maximise results. Psychiatrists offer individualised therapies, medication management, and psychoeducation to support recovery and improve the quality of life of their patients. 

Therapy vs. Psychiatry: When Do You Need It?

People who are having trouble adjusting to new situations, low self-esteem, interpersonal problems, emotional distress, or any grief may find therapy helpful. Therapy can also help with the symptoms of mental health disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and disorders associated with trauma. Therapy can offer invaluable support and direction if you're having trouble handling life's obstacles or if you've been enduring challenges in your thoughts, feelings, or actions. It can also offer a space to vent out your problems or to even understand yourself better.

When a person's functioning and quality of life are greatly affected by severe or chronic symptoms of mental illness, psychiatric care may be required. This covers symptoms including moderate to severe kevel of anxiety, depression, delusions, hallucinations, extreme mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and challenges with assessing reality. Seeking early diagnosis and treatment from a psychiatrist is crucial if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or exhibiting such symptoms.

In contrast to therapy, which uses talk therapy to address emotional, behavioural, and psychological problems, psychiatry integrates medical care, including pharmaceutical management, into the intervention. While psychiatry focuses on treating the symptoms of mental disorder through diagnosis, medication, and other such interventions, therapy stresses upon understanding the root cause of the issue, personal development, developing coping skills and other such therapeutic interventions .

How Therapists and Psychiatrists Work in Collaboration

When providing integrated treatment for patients with complex mental health issues, therapists and psychiatrists frequently work together. While psychiatrists handle medication administration and medical interventions, therapists concentrate on offering psychotherapy and counselling services. By working together, they offer their clients to receive comprehensive care that takes into account both the biological and psychosocial components of their illness. Regular communication between therapists and psychiatrists allows them to share information, coordinate therapy, and support clients as they work towards healing and recovery.

Online therapy, sometimes referred to as telepsychology or teletherapy, is a feasible and simple option of receiving mental health support while being at home. People can access medical treatments and individualised counselling provided by qualified therapists and psychiatrists through confidential video conferencing services. Online therapy is an excellent choice for individuals with hectic schedules or limited access to in-person therapies since it eliminates geographical barriers, reduces stigma, and provides flexible scheduling options.


Psychiatry and therapy are crucial parts of mental health treatment in India, providing a variety of methods to meet people's behavioural, psychological, and emotional requirements. For the purpose of fostering well-being and recovery, timely access to adequate care is essential, regardless of whether one is seeking therapy for personal development or psychiatric assistance for a serious mental illness.

Putting your mental health first is a proactive step toward living a happier and balanced life. Rocket Health India is a great resource providing comprehensive mental health care and support catered to the individual needs of each client.

Get in touch with Rocket Health India immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health related difficulties for individualised treatment options and start your journey on the path to recovery and wellbeing. Prioritising your mental health is of utmost importance for a fulfilling and functioning lifestyle. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists is here to help you navigate life's challenges and promote your well-being.