The differences between psychologist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist can be summarized “simply” in the training path faced by these professionals.
(NB: the following rules are valid for Italy)
Let’s go in order:
- The psychologist studied Psychology at the University (5 years), carries out a professional internship (1 year) and then undergoes the State Exam in order to receive the professional qualification. In most cases he is enrolled in a regional Order (or in a professional register).
The professional registers are available for public consultation, as far as I’m concerned you can find me here:
- The psychiatrist studied Medicine at the University (6 years) and obtained a specialization in Psychiatry (4 years) and then he too enrolled in a professional order and register. For these training reasons, only the psychiatrist (whether or not he is a psychotherapist) can prescribe psychotropic drugs, being a doctor.
- The psychotherapist is a psychologist or a psychiatrist who has obtained, in addition to the paths indicated above, a 3/4 years specialization in psychotherapy, of which there are various orientations.
What I am currently doing to become a psychotherapist, as well as the study of dynamic theory, is:
1. a clinical practice of at least 600 hours;
2. a psychotherapy (yes, even the therapists are patients ) of a minimum of 200 hours, which corresponds to almost 4 and a half years (calculating one session per week);
3. supervision, or technical support by a psychotherapist trainer with greater experience, in order to have a professional “second opinion” on his / her work (of at least 200 hours);
4. an interview, that is the sharing in a group of peers, colleagues, of the same orientation, of one’s own professional experience.
- Finally, one of these orientations is Psychoanalysis . This is why a psychoanalyst is a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapist.
Psychoanalysis is often confused with psychotherapy in general since it was the first historical theoretical and technical approach (you have surely heard of Sigmund Freud…).