Difference Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

7 minute read
Difference Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Often those who struggle with their mental demons refrain from seeking help because of certain taboos in our society. Only a few out of those who struggle with mental illness look for professional help but then get confused about whom to contact whether a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist. This dilemma is not just limited to the ones facing issues with mental wellness, rather a majority of folks around us are unaware of the difference between Psychologists and Psychiatrists. Generally, most of us would regard them as peculiar professionals with a diversified knowledge about the human mind, behaviors, and personalities. If you lack the knowledge regarding the major differences between these two, here is a blog to walk you through the major differences between psychologists vs psychiatrist 

Related Read: How to Become a Clinical Psychologist?


Who is a Psychiatrist?

A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor possessing a certified degree to treat mental illness through medications. Generally, they have completed their basic education in Psychology as medical science and have gone to secure higher-level medical degrees to pursue their career as a full-time Psychiatrist. They possess the attributes to diagnose a variety of mental disorders. 


What Do Psychiatrists Do?

Psychiatrists are medical specialists who assess, diagnose, and treat persons with mental illnesses ranging from moderate to severe and persistent. Psychiatrists can also help with:

  • In the event of a sudden mental illness, provide immediate care.
  • Assist you in managing long-term mental health issues.
  • Other physicians and health experts can get second views and guidance from you.
  • Other health providers may be referred to you.
  • If necessary, admit you to the hospital.

Must Explore: How to Become a Psychiatrist?

Generation Calm

Who is a Psychologist?

Psychologists are not medical doctors they are intellectuals who possess a graduate or Ph.D. degree in Psychology. After spending a good 5-7 years in the field, they become entitled as that to a ‘Doctor’ who can treat the ones suffering from mental illness but without using any sort of medications. They use talk therapies and various other activities to make sure they are helping people heal from their illness. 

What Do Psychologists Do?

Psychologists assist individuals in coping with life’s obstacles as well as mental health concerns. When you see a psychologist, they examine how you think, react, and interact with others and your surroundings. In addition, psychologists:

  • Find patterns that will assist them in comprehending and predicting behavior.
  • Work with individuals, couples, and families to create the changes they want in their lives.
  • Mental, behavioral, and emotional abnormalities must be identified and diagnosed.
  • Make treatment strategies and carry them out.
  • As needed, consult with physicians or social workers.

Check Out: Career in Depression Counselling

Let us take a look at some major parameters on which the differences between Psychologists and Psychiatrists can be laid.

Education Differences

The educational pathway to both professions varies greatly. As mentioned above, Psychiatrists are the doctors who have gathered medical training in general medicine. After a bachelor level degree like MBBS, they have to obtain higher-level education in the field and get deeper insights through a Doctor of Medicine (MD) only then they are certified as a Psychiatrist. Before beginning with full-time practice either on their own or through a hospital, they have to complete an internship for at least 1-1.5 years in which they get to work with several patients ranging from children to adults and learn how to prescribe particular medicinal course after studying the behavioral changes in them. 

Compared to Psychiatrists, Psychologists are academicians who have secured a reputable degree of Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), PsyD (Doctor of Psychology), or Counseling Psychology. Unlike the Psychiatrists, Psychologists on their educational journey learn about the varied traits in the human personality, personality development, history of psychological problems along with many other mind-boggling features of mind and personality. Thus, they become specialists who can diagnose mental and emotional disorders. Psychology aspirants also have to undergo intensive training in which they get to learn about

  • Problem-solving techniques 
  • Analytical Testing 
  • Psychological Theory
  • Behaviour Therapy

Thus, the major difference between Psychologists and Psychiatrists in terms of education is the domain in which they have acquired their particular academic qualifications.

Want Free Career Counselling? Click Here!

Difference Between Treatment of Patients 

Both these professions are distinct in their natures just like the two sides of a coin. They have completely different arenas to work in and only in some extreme cases, do they work together to ensure the best possible treatment of a patient. Here is an example of the functioning ways of a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist.

 A patient has visited his local general physician, where he had mentioned some psychological symptoms that he is facing for quite a time. For a detailed and proper examination of the symptoms, the General Physician would recommend him to a Psychologist. A Psychologist would thoroughly gauge and examine the symptoms and assess them accordingly. If the doctor feels that the patient does not need medical treatment, required help will be provided through various psychological approaches, methods, and activities. But if the patient needs some medicated help, the Psychologist will have to refer the case to the Psychiatrist. Suitable medicines after examining the patient would be provided. 

Often the majority of Psychiatrists treat the patients with the help of medication management or pharmacotherapy which refers to only using medicines to treat mental health. They at times adopt the approach of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is a combination of medical ailment and a therapeutic approach. 

Similarities And Differences Between Psychologist And Psychiatrists

While there are many similarities between psychology and psychiatry, there are also significant variations in the curriculum and practices involved with each route.

Training and Education

A bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate in psychology are required for psychologists. Before earning a license and treating clients, several jurisdictions require applicants to do a postdoctoral fellowship to get more supervised experience. It takes roughly 8-10 years to complete the educational requirements to become a licensed psychologist.

Candidates for the position of a psychiatrist must first get a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in medical school. Pharmacology, anatomy, biology, neurology, and illness are studied by aspiring psychiatrists to get the information essential to administer medicine. Before applying for licensing, graduates must undergo a residency program, which normally lasts four years. The entire procedure takes roughly 12 years.

Differences in Practice

Psychotherapy can be provided by both psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are more likely to prescribe medicine, whilst psychologists are more likely to provide talk and/or behavioral treatment. After completing the necessary education and training, certain states now allow psychologists’ prescription powers.

Choosing Between Psychology and Psychiatry

The decision between these two professional routes is based on your particular priorities, as each has advantages and disadvantages. Educational qualifications, average remuneration, and area of practice are all differentiating considerations.

As a Career

Because psychiatrists spend more time in school than psychologists, they often pay more for their education. The investment pays off immediately since the average psychiatrist makes more than the average clinical psychologist. While this initially draws many students to psychiatry, there are additional considerations to ponder while deciding between the two fields.

Do you care more about the influence of the environment and society on mental health or biological factors? Students studying psychology delve into the extrinsic causes of mental problems as well as treatment options. Psychiatrists spend a lot of time studying the biological and neurological aspects of mental health, which necessitates high math and scientific aptitude.

Clinical psychology is preferred by some because it allows practitioners to spend more time getting to know their clients and developing stronger bonds with them. While some psychiatrists prefer to conduct counseling, the majority of their time is spent assisting patients to manage their medication.

As a Client

It might be difficult to figure out which sort of mental health expert is right for you. Consider visiting a psychiatrist if you believe you have a significant mental health issue like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. While counseling is beneficial for persons with these disorders, medication is also a viable option for many.

Seeing a qualified counselor or clinical psychologist is an excellent place to start as a general rule. Without medicine, talk therapy can help you process trauma and provide you with techniques to manage stress, despair, and anxiety. If your therapist thinks that treatment alone is not helping you, you may choose to consult a psychiatrist.

Because psychiatrists are in such great demand, it might be difficult to locate one who is ready to take on new patients. You might also see a therapist in combination with a general practitioner, who will be able to provide the medicine you require. You can profit from psychotherapy in addition to medication in this way.

Thus, we hope that we have cleared all your doubts regarding the difference between psychologists and psypsychiatristsre you in search of the right program to follow the pathway to a career in Psychology? Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu and they will help you select the most suitable course and university that can equip you with the required knowledge and training to become a trained medical practitioner in Psychology.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *



15,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Talk to an expert