What Is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

4th Aug 2022 • by Amaha

Do you feel like you need to understand your mental health better but are confused between approaching a psychologist or a psychiatrist? If daily tasks are getting impossible for you, then it may be time to seek help

Let us help you understand the major differences between these two mental health professionals. 

Studying human behaviours, emotions, patterns, and associated mental health issues can be complex. There are several perceptions, neurological and biological factors that are at play while treating a mental health concern. A psychologist uses treatment methods based on behavioural, emotional, and cognitive perspectives and a psychiatrist has a more biological approach to the treatment. While they have many overlapping areas of study, both professions have distinct factors that make them unique. 

Who is a psychologist?

According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is defined as “the study of mind and behaviour”. It is a discipline that covers all aspects of the human experience varying across social, cultural, and environmental factors. Psychologists help people overcome their mental health concerns with the use of various therapeutic approaches.

Educational training 

While the education can differ across countries, psychologists complete their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in a specific field of expertise. They can then go on to pursue a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), M.Phil (Master of Philosophy) or PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) in clinical or counselling psychology. While they may hold doctoral degrees, they are not qualified to prescribe medication. The educational training for a psychologist is much more focused on personality, behavioural, emotional and cognitive theories. They also use various assessments, research methods, and different treatment approaches. If you are considering therapy, here is a quick guide to help you get started. 

How does a psychologist help?

A psychologist can help you deal with mental health issues via a number of scientific techniques, including mental health assessments and therapeutic interventions. 

They use different treatment approaches such as:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT is a psychotherapeutic method to help someone identify and overcome negative thoughts and behavioural patterns.

  • Psychoanalysis & Psychodynamic approches: Therapeutic techniques that deal with the unconscious mind and use treatment methods such as dream interpretation, confrontation, free association, and more. 

  • Mindfulness-based therapyThis approach helps people see themselves as separate from their thoughts using techniques like meditation, relaxation, and more.

  • Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy is a therapeutic approach that helps people overcome irrational beliefs that lead them to experience negative reactions to external events. 

  • Schema therapy: Schema therapy is an integration of cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment theory, and Gestalt and experiential therapies.

Who is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatry is defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of emotional and behavioural disorders. Having combined studies in medicine and psychology,  psychiatrists can use many medical interventions for treatment. 

Educational training

Pursuing years of rigorous study, psychiatrists complete their graduation from medical school and then earn a doctorate degree (MD). They undergo specialised training in medical and psychiatry domains where they work with various patients with different mental health problems. 

Along with using several behavioural theories for treatment, psychiatrists also have the authority to prescribe medicines to a patient if required. For example, if your depressive symptoms are significantly interfering with your day-to-day activities and therapy isn’t showing any significant results, you might want to consider medical intervention as well. 

Difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist

Let’s look at the key differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Psychologist

  • Has an advanced degree in Psychology

  • Uses behavioural, emotional and cognitive approaches to treatment

  • Assesses psychological aspects of a condition

  • Uses psychological testing, evaluation & treatment

Psychiatrist

  • Has a Doctorate in Medicine and Psychology

  • Uses biological and neurological approaches to treatment. A psychiatrist might also combine these with psychosocial approaches. 

  • Assesses psychological and physical aspects of a condition. Takes into consideration all other physical conditions. 

  • Can prescribe medicines and conduct psychological evaluations

    Bottom Line 

Psychologists and psychiatrists are equally essential in the realm of mental health care. Our therapists at Amaha work closely with our psychiatrists when needed, in order to build an integrated care management plan to deliver the best outcomes for each client. Amaha psychiatrists come with decades of experience and rigorous training in diverse clinical settings for the entire spectrum of mental illnesses. Psychiatry at Amaha goes beyond just medication - we combine the biological, psychological, & social aspects of care to create a comprehensive treatment plan for each client. Book a session now.

If you think you need help with your mental health in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to an Amaha psychiatrist. You can also download the Amaha app for self-care.
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