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  • ViennaPsyche

I need to talk to someone, not sure who.

A frequent question is: “What’s the difference between a psychologist, a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist?

It’s not that clear for those who aren’t in the field. Often it is this confusion and misinformation that holds many people back from seeking the adequate person, as well as the misconception that only the highly disturbed seek mental health. Why not talk to friends or family? Simply because they are not trained to listen.

In Austria, there is by law a clear distinction between them, which has served as an example for many other European countries:


A Psychologist can be specialized in the clinical, industrial or educational area. They are usually trained to assess all sorts of psychological tests and will normally work to find a diagnosis from a combination of those tests with manuals such as the DSM-V or the ICD-10. The requirements for someone to become a Psychologist are to have a Masters Degree, supervised practical work done during the masters and later a postgraduate education. Some Psychologists to the Psychotherapeutic training and are then permitted to work in both areas.

The reasons to seek a psychologist can be to get a psychological report for work, for university, for school or for a judge. Its is usually for a short-term period.


A Psychotherapist can qualify through 2 stages that must be completed: a general training („Propädeutikum“) that takes 1 to 3 years, followed by a specialized training called („Fachspezifikum“) that takes from 3 to 6 years. These include the theoretical and practical part as well as supervision. Many hours of group self-awareness as well as individual psychotherapy is needed, otherwise how can they treat patients if they haven’t experienced Psychotherapy on themselves first?

Some of these methods are: Psychoanalysis/ Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy, Systemic Family Therapy, Integrative Gestalt Therapy, Individual Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Existential Analysis and Logotherapy, Person-Centered Psychotherapy. There are 23 accredited methods in Austria.

The reasons to seek a Psychotherapist can be to work on relationships, childhood, problems at work or wanting to live a more satisfactory life to list a few.

The length can vary depending on the chosen method from 6 months to 6 years or even more.



A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor who specializes in Psychiatry. They are the only professionals in the Mental Health area who are allowed to prescribe medication.

A Psychiatric/medical treatment when combined with psychotherapy is considered the most beneficial since one must invite patients to explore their emotions and inner world no matter what is going on at the time being, using the medical treatment as a support.

Therefore, Psychotherapists might work with psychiatrists to make a combined treatment as well as with Psychologists to get a psychological report.


Costs vary from wether the specialist is in training or has a license already, but have different ranges depending on where you seek help and on the value you place on your mental health and well-being.

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