The words “psychologist” and “psychiatrist” are often used interchangeably.
You may even be sitting here right now wondering if you accidentally made this mistake in conversation before. Don’t worry, it’s an easy one to make.
Yes, both psychologists and psychiatrists are professionals within the mental health field. Both roles even work with patients on a one-on-one level. That being said, there are quite a few differences between the two roles.
It’s similar to having different doctors. You go to a dentist for your teeth and an eye doctor for your eyes. You wouldn’t see them for anything else.
Let’s learn more about psychologists and psychiatrists as well as the differences between the two roles.
What is a Psychologist?
Psychologists have advanced degrees in psychology. Their main objective is to diagnose or treat mental health problems through different forms of therapy.
In order to become a psychologist, someone must complete a doctoral degree in psychology in order to receive a PhD or PsyD. After postgrad, it typically takes someone between 5-7 years plus another 1-2 years of clinical training in order to become a psychologist.
What is a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They can diagnose and treat mental health problems with therapy, medications, or interventions.
In order to become a psychiatrist, someone must complete medical school in order to earn an MD. They also must complete a psychiatry residency program. After postgrad, it typically takes someone between 8-10 years to become a psychiatrist.
The differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist are within the education, training, and practice.
One of the main differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is education. A psychologist will complete eight to ten years of schooling that consists of an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, and a doctoral degree. A psychiatrist will complete around 12 years of schooling as a whole. This time consists of a bachelor’s degree, medical school, residency, and the time it takes to obtain a medical license. A psychologist is trained in non-medical diagnosis and treatment, while psychiatrists are medical doctors.
If you’re struggling with a mental health problem relating to anxiety, depression, or past traumas, a psychologist is who would be best suited for these types of conditions. If you’re struggling with a more serious type of mental health issue like Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, or dissociative disorder that may need medication, you would want to see a psychiatrist.
Both a psychologist and a psychiatrist are trained and able to perform both behavioral and talk-based therapy approaches. A psychologist is more likely to use both a behavioral and talk-based therapy approach when treating clients. A psychiatrist will use a behavioral approach more often than a talk-based approach with their clients. Psychiatrists are also able to prescribe medication to their clients. Since they’re medical doctors, they’ll be able to watch and monitor how their clients are responding to any medication that is prescribed and adjust their treatment plan as needed.
No matter what your wants and needs are, we’re here to help. Psychologists and psychiatrists often work very closely together. At the end of the day, the goal of both a psychologist and a psychiatrist is your health and happiness. That is and always will be their main priority.
If you’re looking to improve your overall mental health and happiness, don’t be afraid to reach out and get started on the process. We can work with you to help you determine if a psychologist or a psychiatrist is better suited for you, your mental health needs, and your overall goals for treatment. Don’t delay getting the help you need and deserve. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation.