Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist

Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together and their work often overlaps. However, they differ in their training and approach to health care. A psychologist helps patients through more of a counseling approach and is not licensed to prescribe medication. A psychiatrist often treats patients by assessing physical problems of the mind and prescribing medication.

Psychologists have a PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology, but are not medical physicians. Therefore, they cannot prescribe medication. Psychologists treat patients mainly through psychotherapy. They may provide psychological testing and assessment or do psychological research. Their focus is on the mind-body relationship, provide emotional support, and help patients form healthy habits through which to enjoy their life and relationships.

Psychiatrists are physicians (MD or DO) who have completed 4 years of medical school and 4 years of medical residency. They are licensed to give full medical examinations and prescribe drugs. Their focus is on curing mental disorders that result from physical problems (such as a chemical imbalance in the brain).

Psychologists generally deal with emotional problems such as divorce, anxiety, depression, PTSD. Psychiatrists generally deal with physical problems such as schizophrenia and dementia. A session with a psychologist is usually lengthy (30-60 minutes or more) and may even occur in a group setting. A session with a psychiatrist is usually shorter (5-15 minutes) and could involve testing and prescribing of medication.

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