What’s the difference between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist?

Psychiatrists and Psychologists

It is common for people to not know the differences between a psychiatrist and psychologist. It can be confusing even for those who work in the mental health field. Often these professionals work together to treat mental health concerns. Due to it’s popular confusion, we thought it might be helpful to write an article sharing their different roles, training, and how they can help.

Psychologists

Psychologists have specialized training in human cognition, behavior, and clinical therapy. They will typically earn a doctorate degree in their field (a PsyD or a PhD) and focus on clinical and methodological applications of psychology. They can also specialize in psychological testing and evaluation. Psychological testing is when a psychologist has a client go through a series of tests (verbal, written, etc.) and then interprets/uses the data to create a written report that interprets patterns, behaviors, and likely diagnosis of clients to guide their mental health treatment. Generally, psychologists can both test and treat mental health diagnosis, behaviors, and symptoms. Treatment include testing and/or talk therapies or other trauma-based or efficacious therapies. Psychologists do not prescribe medications or treat the medical aspects of mental health disorders or diagnoses.

Psychiatrists or Psychiatric Medication Managers

Psychiatrists on the other hand, can treat both the behavioral and medical mental health symptoms with medication (and at times, psychiatric interventions and therapy). Psychiatrists and psychiatric medication managers typically go to medical school or get their doctorate as a nurse practitioner. They also have extensive internships in which they provide psychiatric care under the supervision of a medical doctor. In the state of Kansas, nurse practitioners are also supervised under a medical doctor throughout their career.

Although it is not as common for psychiatrists to also perform the clinical parts of a person’s mental health treatment, they are licensed and eligible to help with this part of treatment as well. 

Overall, it is important to determine which types of services an individual or family needs when working to treat and improve one’s mental health. If you are uncertain about which mental health professional can best serve your needs, call SOMA at 316-201-6047 and one of our compassionate team members would be happy to educate and assist you with recommendations or resources (both at SOMA and in our local Wichita community). 

1 thought on “What’s the difference between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist?

  1. Thank you for detailing the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I did not know that psychiatrists can give medication. My nephew is having problems with depression. It is so severe, he should probably look for a psychiatrist counselor.

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