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What is the difference between psychologists and registered clinical counsellors?

Registered Psychologists (R. Psych) and Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCC) are mental health professionals. Both can assess and treat mental health conditions, and provide individual or group therapy. They cannot prescribe medications like psychiatrists.

The greatest differences between the two are their amount of schooling and what they are qualified to do.

Some key differences:

  • Psychologists can provide your child with a diagnosis. Counsellors may have a great deal of knowledge, but the law doesn’t allow them to diagnose mental health conditions.
  • Psychologists can assess for learning difficulties by conducting a psycho-educational assessment.
  • Psychologists have advanced training at the doctoral level. BC's Registered Clinical Counsellors have a minimum of a Master's Degree.

Each mental health professional has their own areas of expertise. They may specialize in who they treat and use specific types of therapy.

It’s important to find someone to meet your child’s needs. And it’s ok to switch to another professional if your child doesn’t like them or isn’t making a connection. It's also ok to start with a psychologist for assessments and a diagnose and switch to a RCC for counselling. RCCs are often less expensive.

A note on counselling! Look for registered professionals:

People can say they are "counsellors" or "therapists," even if they have no training in the assessment or treatment of mental health challenges. So, it’s important to find someone who is registered with a professional regulatory body (BC Psychological Association, BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, BC College of Social Workers). This means they have met specific educational and training criteria and are held accountable by professional standards

To help put your mind at ease when looking for a counsellor, be sure to look for a ‘RCC’ (Registered Clinical Counsellor) designation in BC. Or, counsellors can be registered with the Canada-wide association and have a ‘CCC’ (Canadian Certified Counsellor) designation. Social Workers can provide counselling too and have a ‘MSW’ (Master of Social Work) designation.

Some mental health professionals have more than one designation.

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