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Counselor? Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Who are they?


Counselors, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists are all types of mental health experts. Their job is to assist people with their emotional and psychological well-being. However, there are some differences in their training, the scope of their practice, and the treatment method.

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Counselors are often the first line of mental health care for people suffering from less severe mental illnesses. They often hold a master’s degree in counseling and can provide a variety of therapeutic services. Counselors can conduct individual and group sessions, family counseling, and couples therapy. Counselors conduct sessions using several therapeutic approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful to assist clients in identifying and changing problematic thought patterns and behaviors.

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists have a master’s or doctorate in psychology and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. They employ a variety of evidence-based therapeutic techniques, including psychotherapy, to assist people in managing their symptoms and improving their general well-being. Clinical psychologists conduct psychological examinations and administer standardized tests to help diagnose mental health disorders and plan treatment.


Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental illnesses. They can prescribe medication and provide medical treatment for mental health issues, unlike counselors and clinical psychologists. They assist people to control their symptoms and enhance their general well-being by combining psychotherapy, medicine, and other medical therapies.

Statistics of Mental Health Professionals in Malaysia

According to Health director-general (DG) Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, there are about 500 psychiatrists in Malaysia and the current ratio for one psychiatrist to Malaysian population is 1:100,000; while ideally, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended one psychiatrist to serve 10,000 individuals. For clinical psychologists who specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and providing treatment or therapy for mental disorders and behavioral and emotional issues, the ideal ratio recommended is one clinical psychologist serving 5,000. However, the current ratio in the country is 1:980,000. Meanwhile, a counselor who assists clients facing daily emotional and psychological distress should be serving 500 individuals; but the ratio in Malaysia is 1:52,000.

In conclusion, while all three categories of mental health professionals can play vital roles in assisting people with their emotional and psychological well-being, the sort of treatment delivered and the scope of practice will differ based on their specific training and backgrounds. Choosing a qualified and licensed personnel who can help you in dealing and managing your mental health is essential.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being.

It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

Thank you for reading this article.

I am Daniel, My Psychology KK’s intern.

With you, My Psychology KK.