The distinction between  psychiatrist,  psychologist,  psychotherapist,  psychoanalyst is very unclear to many people & the qualifications required even less clear which leads to confusion & uncertainty about whom to choose when seeking a “psy”, (the popular French abbreviation for all the following).


A psychologist is not qualified in medicine but has a degree in psychology.
   In France, this is a protected title* and can only be used after obtaining a D.E.S.S. (Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisées) or D.E.A (Diplôme d’Etudes Approffondies) in Psychology (minimum 5 years of university or equivalent).
   Psychologists work in different fields (legal, social, personnel, education.....).  A clinical psychologist usually works in the health sphere: he may work in a hospital or other health structures. He/she is usually trained in psychotherapy (behaviourist, psychoanalysis, Gestalt.....). A clinical psychologist or psychiatrist are the two professions trained in basic psychology i.e. a study of normal mental processes & behaviour and psychopathology.
  The Psychologist is bound by the Code of Ethics for Psychologists (Code Déontologique des Psychologues).


    A psychiatrist (Greek: psukho- breath, life, soul; iatros: healer) is a doctor, specialized in psychiatry. This is the branch of medicine, which studies disorders affecting thought, emotion & behaviour. A psychiatrist, therefore, is trained to diagnose & treat mental illness & disorder (schizophrenia, manic depression, psychoses...). As a doctor he/she prescribes medication for which the Sécurité Sociale may reimburse consultation fees. A psychiatrist may also be trained as a psychotherapist.


    Until recently**, in France, "psychotherapist" was not a title & not protected by law. Anybody, therefore, could call him/herself a psychotherapist and certain psychotherapists had no basic, in-depth training in psychology or psychopathology. A psychotherapist, qualified as a psychologist or psychiatrist, deals with psychological, existential problems & difficulties & uses a therapeutic method in which he/she received training at the university & post-university level.


   The practise of psychoanalysis is not regulated in France. A psychoanalyst, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist, has to have completed his/her own psychoanalysis.
   Psychoanalysis is an in-depth psychotherapy working on unconscious processes & motivations which influence people’s behaviour, thus enabling one progressively to get rid of different blocks, complexes…. & to live more freely.
   Often, a psychiatrist who offers psychoanalysis does not prescribe medical treatment in his/her capacity as a  psychoanalyst, in order not to mix the two.

Anyone in private practice must be declared with the URSAFF, be registered with the DDASS, have a SIRET & ADELI no. in order to work legally.

          Joanna KALUZINSKA, Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist - Psychoanalyst,
           D.E.S.S. de Psychologie Clinique et Pathologique,  Université de Paris VII.
           Copyright J.E.KALUZINSKA © 2004 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

* “Wrongful assumption of the title of "Psychologist" shall be punishable by the penalties imposed for the offence of wrongful assumption of a title provided for under Art.433-17 of the Criminal Code."
** Different official texts concerning the use of title of "psychotherapist" have recently (2010, 2012) been introduced. Further information & updates can be obtained by consulting:, www. etc.


Copyright J.E.KALUZINSKA 2004 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.