Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Although they are both licensed professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists each have specific training, educational background, and they each play a particular role in mental health treatment. This blog will be discussing who are a psychologist and a psychiatric and their similarities and differences.
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study areas such as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior, and cognitive processes. So, according to the Health Times article What is a Psychologist? The psychologist is an allied health professional who specializes in treating mental health problems and human behaviors. The treatments that the psychologist follows are psychotherapies that depend mainly on talking and mind exercises. While a psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders, follow the Psychiatry medicine branch, which focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
Both psychology and psychiatry deal with human behavior and mental illnesses. Psychology is considered a social science, like philosophy or anthropology. Psychologists and psychiatrists use different tools to treat mental health conditions. On the one hand, psychologists commonly treat individuals with psychotherapy. Also referred to as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a term for various treatment techniques aimed to help an individual identify and change troubling thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Through several sessions, a psychologist will work with their patient to help them better understand their symptoms and how to manage them. Talk therapy can take many forms.
On the other hand, Psychiatrists diagnose mental health conditions using various tools, including one-on-one evaluations, psychological tests, and lab tests to rule out physical causes of symptoms. Like other doctors, they can treat their patients with prescription medications. They can also prescribe different types of treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy or light therapy. Psychologists cannot prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists and psychologists often collaborate to treat individuals mental health concerns such as:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Severe depression
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Finally, the significant difference between a medical psychologist and a psychiatrist in terms of their occupations is similar to any other medical doctor, and psychiatrists attend medical school. Upon completing medical school, they graduate with one of two degrees: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). After they obtain their degree, psychiatrists must complete a four-year residency program followed by a written exam to get licensed to practice medicine. Additionally, some psychiatrists receive extra training in a specialty. While psychologists complete graduate school and sometimes doctoral-level training. It can take two to six years to complete one of these degree programs. Upon graduating, psychologists generally receive one of the following degrees:
- Masters in Counseling Psychology
- Masters in Clinical Psychology
- Masters in the Social Work
- Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD)
- Doctor of Counseling Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Once they’ve earned their degree, psychologists complete another one to two years of clinical training which entails working with people. Other Doctoral Psychology programs do not qualify their recipients to work individuals and perform clinical work. As a psychiatrist, psychologists must take an exam to become licensed to practice in their area. Like psychiatrists, some psychologists become trained in a specialty.