Know The Difference Between A Psychologist And A Psychiatrist

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Psychologists and Psychiatrists both work for treating mental health conditions but are distinct in terms of profession and education. The only similarity is that they work with individuals struggling with any mental health disorders. Psychologists and Psychiatrists need to hold a legal license to treat any patient. Also, psychologists cannot prescribe medicines as they do not have any medical degree, but psychiatrists can.

How are Psychologists and Psychiatrists different?


Psychologists and Psychiatrists practice differently and treat patients differently. 

Psychologists diagnose the mental health disorder via observation, surveys and interviews. They usually work in hospitals, private clinics, rehabilitation programs, nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals. 

They specialize in different sectors: relationship/marriage counselling, business/organizational psychology, criminal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, neuropsychology or social psychology. Each branch is specialized in treating a particular disorder an individual is diagnosed with. Psychologists usually treat patients through different types of therapies. 

Psychiatrists diagnose mental health conditions through psychological tests, one-to-one evaluations and lab tests in some cases. They also work in hospitals, private clinics or psychiatric hospitals. Psychiatrists often prescribe psychotherapy alongside medications. In some cases, they also prescribe electroconvulsive therapy or light therapy. 

Educational Qualification

Psychiatrists must obtain a degree from a medical school from the options below:

  • Doctor of medicine
  • Doctor of osteopathic medicine

They can also train under specialized areas such as:

  • Addiction medicine
  • Child psychiatry
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Pain medicine

Psychologists must obtain a degree of doctoral-level and complete at least two years of training to become licensed psychologists. The degree depends on the specialisation an individual chooses to study, which they must choose during their post-graduation. 

Specialisation includes:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Organisational Psychology
  • Business Psychology
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Sports Psychology

In simple words, psychologists study the human mind and behaviour to help them overcome psychological disorders through different kinds of therapies. However, they focus more on strategising how an individual can handle the problems they face. 

Psychiatrists also treat mental health conditions. You may consult a psychiatrist when an individual has a complex disorder that requires medication besides therapy. Psychiatrists hold a medical degree for which they will be able to understand the biological aspects of the disorder better and treat it accordingly.

The expenses of consulting any professional from the two sectors can be similar depending on the location and work experience of the professional.

If you wish to consult any of the one but require the other one, they will refer you to the best fit option.