Many people are not able to distinguish between a psychologist vs psychiatrist. As a result, they use these terms interchangeably, which should not be the case. There are significant differences that exist between these two professions, which are manifested in various ways. To begin with, the educational requirements for psychologists are different from those of psychiatrists. Further, they also offer different services to their patients, in that they treat different problems. Understanding these differences is important for patients, as well as those aspiring to join these professions in future. This article aims to explore the differences between psychologists and psychiatrists, with a view to educating readers about them.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist-Educational Background Differences

psychologist vs psychiatristAs earlier indicated, one of the differences between a psychologist vs psychiatrist is the education background. A psychologist is usually required to have a doctoral-level degree in psychology. In this case, he or she first receives a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and then proceeds to a doctorate. A bachelor’s degree program in psychology normally takes four years. The doctorate programs typically last for five to seven years. Afterwards, the psychologist is required to undertake internship for at least a year or two before gaining licensure. A psychologist can specialize in different areas, such as child, adolescent or adult psychology.

On the other hand, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor with additional training in mental health studies. Psychiatrists first attend medical school, where they receive a medical degree after four years. Once they are through with medical training, they are also required to undertake additional mental health training for four years. As such, a psychiatrist is a physician who has specific training in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions. Additionally, some may specialize in certain areas such as child, adolescent or geriatric psychiatry. Based on the educational requirements of these professions, the distinction between a psychologist vs psychiatrist is quite clear.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist-Know What Services Each Provides

The other difference that exists between a psychologist vs psychiatrist is in the services that each provides. While psychiatrists can prescribe medications to their patients, psychologists do not. Instead, psychologists use different types of psychotherapy to treat their patients. Nevertheless, they may give information to a patient’s psychiatrist or regular physician to aid them in medical decisions. The mental conditions handled by these professionals are also different, in keeping with their different educational backgrounds. Some of the problems that a psychologist can deal with are; addictions, phobias, anxiety, depression, stress and eating disorders. Psychiatrists usually treat patients with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoia and personality disorders. The bottom-line however is that mental health patients requiring medications have to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

It is apparent from this article that the terms ‘psychologist’ and ‘psychiatrist’ cannot be used interchangeably. Not only do they have different educational requirements, but their services are also different. As such, people intending to join these professions now know what to expect. At the same time, patients or their families will be able to make informed choices when it comes to mental health professionals. Lastly, learning to distinguish between a psychologist vs psychiatristenables people to determine what qualifications to look for in both.