Psychologists and Psychiatrists: What’s The Difference?

Ever wondered what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? What services do each of them provide? What educational background or training is required to become a psychologist or psychiatrist? Well today in blog I have created here an outlook on what’s the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist to help people get a better understanding about the both profession. Be reminded that psychologists and psychiatrists work hand in hand in treating patients with mental illnesses or mental disorders. They both can make a tremendous difference in the lives of people who have mental health issues.

The Three Main Differences Between Psychiatrists and Psychologists are:

  1. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, psychologists are not.
  2. Psychiatrists prescribe medication, psychologists can’t.
  3. Psychiatrists diagnose illness, manage treatment and provide a range of therapies for complex and serious mental illness. Psychologists focus on providing psychotherapy (talk therapy) to help patients. Keep in mind people that clinical psychologists can diagnose mental illnesses as well.

Many people get psychiatrists and psychologists confused with each other.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists understand how the brain works, our emotions, feelings and thoughts. Both can treat mental illness with psychological treatments (talking therapies).

However, psychiatrists attend medical school and become medical doctors before doing specialist training in mental health. Because they are doctors, psychiatrists understand the links between mental and physical problems. They can also prescribe medications.

To go into it in some more detail, the main differences relate to:

  • training
  • treatments provided
  • conditions treated
  • getting an appointment.

Training

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with at least 11 years of training – usually more.

They first do a medical degree at university. Next they spend at least 1 or 2 years training as a general doctor.

They then complete at least 5 years training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

Psychologists have at least 6 years of university training and supervised experience.

They may also hold a Masters or Doctorate level qualification in psychology. If they have a Doctorate (PhD) a psychologist can call themselves ‘Dr’, but they are not medical doctors.

Clinical psychologists have special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

Treatments Provided

Psychiatrists can provide a wide range of treatments, according to the particular problem and what will work best. These include:

  • medication
  • general medical care, including checking your physical health and the effects of medication
  • psychological treatments
  • brain stimulation therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Psychologists focus on providing psychological treatments.

Conditions Treated

Psychiatrists tend to treat people who need their medical, psychological and social needs considered.

These are usually people with complex conditions, for example:

  • severe depression
  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder.

Someone who has attempted suicide or has suicidal thoughts will usually be seen by a psychiatrist.

Psychologists are more likely to see people with conditions that can be helped effectively with psychological treatments. This might include behavioural problems, learning difficulties, depression and anxiety.

Any questions, queries or concerns, comment below I would love to hear your thoughts.

AMY

Published by

Coach Amy

BS, Psychology graduate, Certified NLP Master Practitioner, Certified Life Coach, training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) Certified Confidence Life Coach,

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