Psychotherapist Overview

Psychotherapist Image - Masterfile

A psychotherapist interacts with patients to initiate change in the patient's thoughts, feelings, and behavior through adaptation. Psychotherapists provide treatment in individual and group settings. A licensed psychotherapist obtains a master's degree or doctorate in a chosen mental health field, undergoes a supervised clinical residency, and is licensed, certified, or registered by a government or psychological agency to which they are accountable.

Licensed professionals who practice psychotherapy, also sometimes called talk therapy, include the following:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Registered psychiatric nurses
  • Clinical social workers
  • Licensed counselors
  • Marriage therapists
  • Family therapists
  • Clinical psychologists

Drug and alcohol counselors, ordained priests, ministers, and rabbis may practice psychotherapy (talk therapy) without a license. In some states, a person with a master's degree in education or psychology may also practice psychotherapy without a license.

Psychotherapy Types

Psychotherapists use the following techniques to treat various psychological conditions and situations:

  • Behavioral therapy (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, controlled exposure with response prevention)
  • Biofeedback
  • Interactive group therapy (e.g., family therapy)
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation training
  • Self-help groups
  • Psychodynamic therapy

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 21 Jan 2002

Last Modified: 01 Dec 2015