How Are Psychiatrists And Psychologists Different?

As most people know, both psychiatrists and psychologists can treat patients who have mental illnesses. However, these two types of caregivers are not the same. There are certain types of care that a psychiatrist can provide that a psychologist cannot. These are some ways that psychiatrists and psychologists are different.

Educational and Training Requirements

Psychiatrists are medical doctors and must complete several years of education and training. The bare minimum that is required includes attending a university to obtain a medical degree. Then they must complete 2 additional years of training as a general doctor. Finally, they must also complete a 5-year training degree in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. 

A psychologist must have extensive education and training as well. Psychologists must have 6 years of university education and training. A psychologist has the option of either holding a master's or a doctorate degree in psychology. He may also choose to further his education to become a clinical psychologist. While a psychologist may use the title of doctor once completing a doctorate degree, he is not technically considered a medical doctor.

Conditions They Can Treat

The types of conditions that a psychiatrist and a psychologist can treat may also vary. A psychiatrist is able to treat mental conditions that have a negative impact on the patient's medical, psychological, and social well-being. For example, a psychiatrist may diagnose and treat a patient he believes to have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or clinical depression. Patients who are suicidal also are commonly treated by a psychiatrist.

Psychologists normally treat patients who need help with meeting their psychological needs. This may include conditions such as depression, anxiety, or certain learning disabilities.

Types of Treatment

Another way that psychiatrists and psychologists are different is the types of treatment they can provide. A psychiatrist can diagnose patients, prescribe medications and adjust them as needed, provide patients with individual counseling, or even perform brain stimulation therapy depending on the conditions the patient has.

Psychologists usually offer only psychological types of treatment. This may include regular counseling sessions, group therapy meetings, or enrolling the patient in certain activities that can help improve his or her psychological well-being. Both psychiatrists and psychologists may use any combination of their specific types of treatment in order to best meet the needs of the patient.

Psychiatrists and psychologists may also work as a team with other doctors to ensure the best treatment plan has been created for the patient. For instance, a psychiatrist may consult with a patient's family physician to determine which medications can be safely prescribed. A psychologist may also consult with a psychiatrist so the psychiatrist can prescribe medications that will work best with the patient's psychotherapy plan. 

To learn more about the differences, talk to a psychologist near you.