Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: Understanding the Difference between the Two

Psychologist vs Psychiatris

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: Understanding the Difference between the Two

So many people get confused about the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and that’s alright. For people who are not well-versed in the field of psychology, it’s common not to know which is which. However, this can be an issue when you need to seek help for a mental health concern. You’ll have to know who to call. Thus, it’s important to know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

Their Similarities

Both psychiatrists and psychologists have training that helps you manage and cope with your mental health issues. They provide services and support to guide you through dealing with these mental health concerns in your everyday life. One of the most common ways and one that people prefer is having them talk to them through their problems. Both can do this for you too.

Their Differences

The difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist lies in these factors: education and approach.



Psychiatrists graduate from medical school with either a degree of doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine. They also undergo a medical internship for one year and 3 years of residency in assessing and treating mental health illnesses. During this residency, psychiatrists deal with patients in hospitals and outpatient settings. In this program, they learn and gain experience in prescribing medication, providing therapy, and other forms of treatment. Most importantly, this is where they get to practice diagnosing and treating mental health issues.


Psychologists undergo a complete graduate school program up to doctoral-level training. They can either be a doctor of philosophy or a doctor of psychology. After acquiring these degrees for four or six years, they undergo another year or two of training with people with mental health concerns. After the training, they must take a licensure exam.


The similarity in both their approach to addressing mental health concerns is providing psychotherapy where patients talk about their problems with them, and that’s just about it. The differences in approaches that occur in psychologist vs. psychiatrist: how do you choose are in understanding behaviour vs. understanding biology and biochemistry.

While psychologists track your sleep patterns, eating patterns, and recurring negative feelings and thoughts then determine whether you are suffering from a mental health illness, psychiatrists diagnose you through biology and chemical activities in your brain through determining whether what you are experiencing is not caused by a different reason like vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems and such. It is only a psychiatrist that can prescribe you medicine.

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: Whom should you call?

Deciding who to call can be based on the severity of your case. For people who have more serious problems, psychiatrists may be preferable for them since psychiatrists have formal training and knowledge about medical problems and drug effects that may have been causing the symptoms of a mental health issue. More so, they could easily prescribe medicine.

However, for people who have less serious kinds of mental health concerns, a psychologist may be a good fit for them. When psychologists diagnose patients to have severe kinds of mental health issues, they refer patients to psychiatrists.

Be it a psychiatrist or psychologist, there is no one best way to treat a mental health concern. People may prefer the one over the other. No one can determine which is more effective for a person. The important thing here is for people to seek help whether it be from a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

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