Difference Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Difference Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Often those who struggle with their mental demons refrain 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 between 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 Psychologist and Psychiatrist. Generally, most of us would regard them as peculiar professionals with a diversified knowledge about the human mind, behaviours and personalities. If you lack the knowledge regarding the major differences between these two, here is a blog to walk you through the insights of both these professions. 

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 a 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. 

Must Explore: How to Become a Psychiatrist?

Who is a Psychologist?

Psychologists are not medical doctors whereas they are the intellectuals who possess a graduate or PhD degree in Psychology. After spending good 5-7 years in the field, they become entitled as that of 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. 

Check Out: Career in Depression Counselling

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


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 Doctor of Medicine (MD) only then they are certified as a Psychiatrist. Before beginning with full-time practise either on their own or through a hospital, they have to complete an internship for at least a period of 1-1.5 years in which they get to work with a number of patients ranging from children to adults and learn how to prescribe particular medicinal course after studying the behavioural changes in them. 

As compared to Psychiatrists, Psychologists are academicians who have secured a reputable degree of PhD (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 Psychologist and Psychiatrist in terms of education is the domain in which they have acquired their particular academic qualifications.

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Difference Between Treatment of Patients 

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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, they work together to ensure the best possible treatment of a patient. Here is an example of 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 from quite a time. For a detailed and proper examination of the symptoms, the General Physician would recommend him 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 the mental health. They at times adopt the approach of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is a combination of medical ailment and therapeutic approach. 

Thus, we hope that we have cleared all your doubts regarding the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist. Are 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.

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