Psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or coach - The differences explained

19 September 2023

Do you feel lost when choosing the right healthcare provider? You are not alone. There is a lot of confusion around the titles psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or coach. Continue reading to understand how they differ and determine which healthcare provider can best support you.

Finding the right healthcare provider or form of therapy can feel like quite a search. Yet it is good to take a moment to think about this. Appropriate support tailored to your needs contributes to both the quality and outcome of therapy. So how do you make the best choice? We navigate you through the different options.

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A psychologist focuses on human behaviour and mental processes. The title of psychologist is protected by law, so you can only take this title if you have obtained a university master's degree in psychology.

A clinical psychologist is an expert on mental challenges and disorders and has experience in formulating and treating them. They mainly investigate how certain behaviour arose, why it persists and how to change it. Through therapy, a psychologist tries to address your mental problems or challenges.

A first-line psychologist is a psychologist who focuses on short-term interventions. Just like at the doctor's office, you can make an appointment yourself and start talking right away. This is first-level care. The specialised function is aimed at people from vulnerable target groups with moderately severe problems in whom more intensive psychotherapeutic treatment, psychodiagnostics and indications are needed.


Psychotherapy is a form of treatment within mental health and can be seen as a further specialisation in clinical psychology. This is a separate degree and takes another four years. Within psychotherapy, there are different movements such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy or client-centred therapy.

A psychotherapist is trained in counselling people and focuses mainly on a (change) process in collaboration with the person. The psychotherapist focuses on treating specific complaints. Which form of psychotherapy you best follow depends on the challenge, your preference and style of therapy. If all three match, the effectiveness of therapy will increase. Like a psychologist, the title psychotherapist is protected by law.

A therapist is the umbrella name for someone who provides therapy. Unlike the title psychotherapist, therapist is not a protected title.

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A psychiatrist is a doctor with a specialisation in psychiatry. The title psychiatrist is also protected and is only applicable if you have a master's degree in medicine and a specialisation in psychiatry. Since a psychiatrist is a doctor, he or she may also prescribe medication. A psychologist or therapist cannot. A psychiatrist works in the same way as a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, but usually focuses on more complex or severe psychiatric disorders in combination with medical treatment through medication.


A coach looks at the challenges you are currently experiencing and guides you towards a solution. To this end, you set specific goals that contribute to your personal growth. New insights and experiences are central, with the aim of putting this knowledge into practice immediately. A coach focuses mainly on the present and the future. The title coach is not protected, so anyone can call themselves a coach. You can obtain accreditation from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), but this is not yet a legal requirement.

There are different types of coaches: a life coach, sports coach, career coach,... These all work around a specific theme. For example, a career coach works with you to find the job that suits you best and only works around this goal.

Choosing the right path

Selecting the appropriate form of therapy depends on your specific challenges, personal needs, and style. At BloomUp, we provide access to a variety of healthcare providers. Read on to discover who can best support you.

If you're grappling with past issues or facing mental wellbeing challenges like anxiety, depression, stress, or burnout, consider consulting a psychologist or psychotherapist. For complex concerns requiring medication, they may refer you to a psychiatrist. BloomUp offers the convenience of scheduling an online consultation with accredited psychologists or psychotherapists without lengthy waiting times.

If you're feeling stuck and need guidance in determining your direction, coaching can be a suitable option. Our growth tracks focus on specific themes, equipping you with new skills to address your current challenges effectively.

BloomUp is here to help you

Uncertain about the type of therapy you require? That's absolutely fine; we're here to guide you through the process step by step.

We'll propose three psychologists or psychotherapists aligned with your needs and challenges based on a few questions. You can choose who you'd like to talk to, and within three days, you can have a free online introduction. Our psychologists and psychotherapists possess the expertise to refer you to the appropriate healthcare provider. For more details on how this works, click here to find the psychologist or psychotherapist that suits you.

Ultimately, the most critical aspect when selecting a healthcare provider is your comfort and confidence in your choice. Therapy and coaching are designed to empower you to face your challenges independently, and at BloomUp, we're dedicated to helping you get back on track.