Some people hear the words "psychologist" and "psychiatrist" and think they are the same, just with alternative spellings. To the average person, this belief makes sense. Both are medical professionals who treat mental health issues. However, if you want to seek help for your mental health issues, it's good to know the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. In this post, we shall discuss them.
First, let's take a look at the career of a psychologist. A psychologist helps diagnose and treat those who have mental disorders. A person may go to a psychologist for more than just mental disorders, however. Someone may see a psychologist because of a situational issue, such as a major change in their life. Life changes can cause mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
A psychologist may employ different tests for those who have mental disorders to learn more about the patient. The tests can help the psychologist map the patient's personality and make treatments based on the patient's character. These tests are also good for diagnosing.
Once the psychologist has diagnosed the patient's condition, they can use various methods to treat the condition. Psychologists are not as focused on medicine and focus on talk therapy instead. Therapy methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help the person who is having trouble by changing how they think and approach different situations.
A psychologist may work with one person at a time, but they can also work as a group therapist.
As mentioned above, they are not focused on medicinal treatments for mental health issues. If a patient needs medicine, a psychologist usually isn't the one who will prescribe it. They will work with other medical professionals in almost all states to prescribe the medicine to treat the patient.
A psychologist will work in various settings. These can include private businesses, hospitals, schools, prisons, rehab, and so much more. Finding a psychologist usually isn't that difficult, and you should find one with availability by searching the internet.
A psychologist is highly trained and has received years of education. They have an undergraduate degree and an additional 4-6 years of graduate and doctoral studies. The mind, practice, and ethics involved in psychology take a long time to study. A psychologist will go through internships, take tests, and do various other tasks before obtaining their license. A psychologist's education never ends, even after they have graduated.
Now for the definition of a psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist is also employed to help those who have mental issues. These issues can be long-lasting or something that happened suddenly. A psychiatrist works in psychiatry, a field that treats, diagnoses, and prevents different mental disorders.
As a psychologist, a psychiatrist will help those struggling by using various tests to ensure a proper diagnosis. These usually come in the form of talking to the patient first to explain their symptoms. However, talking to the patient alone usually isn't enough for a proper diagnosis. A good psychiatrist will look at the patient's genetic history to see if there is a family history of mental illness. The diagnosed person will be treated once the psychiatrist is sure that they have the right diagnosis.
How They Find Mental Disorders
A psychiatrist will rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM, to potentially learn what mental disorder the patient has. The DSM is currently in its fifth edition, and it allows the psychiatrist to diagnose a set of symptoms properly.
How Psychiatrists Treat Patients
Psychiatrists will use a few different tools to treat the patient. Here are a few of them.
Talk therapy. Just like a psychologist, a psychiatrist may begin by trying to change the patient's mind. Sometimes, a person who will listen and respond to the patient can help them out. Talk therapy can last a few sessions or could take years to be a success. Every case is different. Different types of therapy may be used for different situations. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common and empirically validated mode of treatment. This modality can treat anxiety, depression, and various other mental conditions too.
Unlike a psychologist, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications. They have been specifically trained to understand the impacts and side effects of what they prescribe. They have additional knowledge of psychoactive medications that is beyond what a typical family doctor possesses. A psychiatrist can help treat depression, PTSD, BPD, and anxiety with antidepressants. Those who have hallucinations, schizophrenia, and similar disorders, can use antipsychotics. Hypnotics may be used to induce sleep. They may use pills to stabilize their mood. Sometimes, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is needed to get the best results.
ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy. There is a bit of a stereotype when it comes to treatment with ECT. They imagine someone strapped down and having their brain electrocuted. While ECT does exist, it may not be what you think it is. The brain is gently stimulated using electrical impulses and magnetic fields. This stimulates your brain, treating severe depression and other mental disorders that do not respond to medicine or talk therapy.
A psychiatrist should use all the tools they have to help the patient heal. Typically a psychiatrist uses a combination of talk therapy and medications.
Like a psychologist, a psychiatrist spends years pursuing their education and internships. Then they get their license through a state exam. Once they get their license, they need to train for four years to become a full psychiatrist. Once they complete the training they need, many psychiatrists take an exam to be board certified. They must retake the exam every few years to keep their certification. If they choose to specialize in a specific area, they may continue to train to become a child psychiatrist or addiction specialist.
So like a psychologist, they spend a lot of time training. Once they get their job, they can work in various locations such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, universities, nursing homes, and other places that require someone to treat a person who has mental health issues.
What Does A Psychologist Do When Compared To A Psychiatrist?
As you can see, both professions are quite similar, but there are a few differences between them. They both treat mental disorders and can diagnose their patients. Both can talk to their patients and employ various ways of treating them. Here are a few major differences.
A psychiatrist is someone who works as a medical doctor, while a psychologist is not. While psychologists have many techniques they can use to diagnose and treat, a psychiatrist has medicinal options.
Most people who are a psychologist can't prescribe medicine to the clients. A psychologist may request assistance from a psychiatrist or a doctor to prescribe the medicine, but they are not usually the people who are writing the prescription.
People can go to psychologists for less severe mental problems. Someone who has mild depression or insomnia may see a psychologist. But someone who has been struggling with severe medical conditions, or has had sudden intense mental disorders, may see a psychiatrist.
You can't just walk into a psychiatrist's office and be a patient. You need to have a referral from someone else, such as a general practitioner. Meanwhile, someone can usually schedule with a psychologist at any time.
Now that you know the difference between the two professions, you can better decide who you need to see. Whatever the choice is, it's a good thing to seek help as soon as you can. Even a minor condition may need treatment. That occasional bout of depression can evolve into something worse if left untreated.
Even if you need someone to talk to, it's worth finding someone who can help. A therapist can assist you with various issues, such as liver problems or getting the motivation you need to achieve your goals. By talking to someone, they can help you live a better life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a psychologist do in a day?
Psychologists work in clinics, research facilities, and/or hospitals, depending on their expertise. Various subfields include school psychology, sports psychology, and abnormal psychology. On a typical day, they may meet with patients, work on a study, write a paper, or even teach psychology students. Practicing psychologists spend most of their time conducting psychotherapy or talk therapy, group therapy, or creating recovery/rehab programs. Research psychologists will conduct studies to study human behavior and its mental effects in controlled environments. Others practice psychology in a theoretical or educational environment as a professor or consultant, depending on their doctoral degrees.
Is a psychologist a therapist?
Depending on their training, those who practice psychology may offer therapy or counseling. Practicing psychologists regularly meet with patients, whether in an in-patient setting (e.g., a hospital or rehabilitation clinic) or outpatient (a private practice, public health clinic, or online counseling service). These licensed psychologists typically have advanced or doctoral degrees in psychology, social work, and/or marriage/family therapy. While not all psychologists offer therapy, the American Psychological Association declares that the entire field should work together to promote healthier people and a healthier society.
What does it mean to be a psychologist?
For many practicing psychologists, health is holistic. This means that they aim to treat and nurture the mind while other medical professionals treat the body. According to the American Psychological Association, licensed psychologists must understand their expertise as part of an overall mission to improve people’s lives.
Practicing psychologists typically begin their studies in psychology programs that explore human behavior, such as how we relate to others, how our sense of self is constructed, and the effects of trauma or illness on the mind. Then, they earn a doctoral degree along with medical training. This allows them to integrate their observations with theoretical constructs. Together, and when complemented by physical therapies, psychologists help people improve their state of mind and live happier lives.
What are the 4 goals in psychology?
All practicing psychologists, no matter their specialty or where they work, have four main goals that make up their scientific framework: Describe, Explain, Predict, and Change/Control. At the core of the psychological practice is the assumption that one must first understand the problem to fix it. Then, a psychologist can use well-established facts to diagnose mental illness and form a treatment plan. Those who focus on research use the scientific method to explore how the human mind works and develop effective therapies. According to the American Psychological Association, all psychologists, health is the primary goal.
Should I go to a psychologist?
If you are experiencing chronic stress, relationship issues, or a suspected mental illness, practicing psychologists can be an excellent resource. Unlike psychiatrists who will prescribe medication to treat the symptoms, psychologists help people by teaching them techniques to resolve stress, improve their self-esteem, and process past trauma. The American Psychological Association has a convenient “Psychologist Locator” to help you find the right therapist.
How much do psychologists make monthly?
A psychologist’s pay depends on their specialty, where they work, and whether or not they serve patients, but in general, careers in psychology are well-paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most U.S. practicing psychologists earn between $86,000 and $108,000 annually, which amounts to about $7000-$9000 per month. The American Psychological Association reports that those in industrial and organizational psychology earn a median annual salary of $125,000.
Where do psychologists work?
Psychologists work in many different organizations. For example, licensed psychologists who specialize in school psychology may work as guidance counselors or therapists in a college infirmary. Other practicing psychologists offer psychotherapy or talk therapy in private clinics, public health or victim services departments, or as part of a hospital or other inpatient facility.
Of course, not all practicing psychologists work with patients. Many licensed psychologists perform research that guides the development of new medications, therapies, and other treatment options. Others work with sociologists or anthropologists to better understand the role of the mind in human behavior. The American Psychological Association also provides opportunities for collaboration and research across various fields.
There is no shortage of careers in psychology! Many undergraduate psychology programs offer a basic overview that psychology students can then customize with advanced degrees.
What are the 3 branches of psychology?
Obviously, the human mind is an incredibly broad topic. The field of psychology is roughly broken up into 3 branches: (1) the basic science of the mind, which can also include animal behavior, (2) human psychology, and (3) professional or applied psychology. When you see a therapist who holds a doctoral degree in psychology, they are in the third group of practicing psychologists. If you are using EMDR or another therapy for your mental illness, that treatment was developed by the second group. However, it all comes down to the core mechanics of the mind and how the brain regulates moods, behavior, and actions, which is all covered in the first group.
The American psychological paradigm breaks the field down into more specific areas. According to the American Psychological Association, there are 14 distinct branches of psychology.
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our Therapist
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.