Mental health professionals

Mental health is a tricky thing and understanding tiny differences between professionals in the area can be even trickier. Who to look for when you feel like you are breaking down and who if you want to change something in your life?  Here comes a brief description of competencies and requirements of mental health professionals. Psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or coach? Which one is the right fit for your topic?


A psychologist (SÁLFRÆÐINGUR in Icelandic):

  • is a mental health professional
  • conducts psychological interview, diagnostic assessment, and gives psychological advice – recommendations in psycho-social area
  • studied a university program in psychology (usually a 5-years master‘s)
  • studies contain: practical and theoretical courses in psychology, research methodology, and statistics
  • has many areas of specialization such as clinical psychology in health care, school psychology, traffic psychology or forensic psychology in criminology.
  • qualification in Europe is set by EFTA in EuroPsy (nevertheless, no Icelandic university is EuroPsy compliant), professional recognition follows the directive 2005/36/EC
  • license in Iceland is subject of the Department of Health


A psychotherapist (SÁLMEÐFERÐARFRÆÐINGUR in Icelandic):

  • is a mental health professional
  • treats individuals with psychological, emotional and psychosocial problems thoroughly
  • offers long-term collaboration, the relationship with the therapist is a crucial element in the therapy
  • studied a university program in health care or humanities (including psychology, social work or philosophy)
  • is trained in therapeutic techniques according to one of the psychotherapeutical approaches
  • qualification in Europe follows the EAP certification requirements
  • SALM, Icelandic Association for Psychotherapy, is a member of EAP, follows the regulations and their members are verified psychotherapists
  • not a licensed profession in Iceland, no legislation is required


A psychiatrist (GEÐLÆKNIR in Icelandic):

  • is a medical healthcare professional
  • offers medical diagnosis and treatment – prescribes medicine and other medical recommendations
  • studied a general medicine (medical doctor) and has an additional attestation from psychiatry

Life Coach

A coach (ÞJÁLFARI in Icelandic):

  • is NOT a certified mental health professional
  • offers self-developement
  • uses knowledge bases from a course or own life experience
  • qualification in vaguely described, though there are associations of coaches in Europe
  • is not a licensed profession in Iceland, no legislation is required

Are you interested in bettering your mental health? You can use the above mentioned databases to find a professional fitting your needs. Moreover, you can book a session with me directly on this web page.