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Psychologist or Psychiatrist: Which is Which?

Psychologist or psychiatrist, which is which? Psychology and psychiatry are frequently mistaken to be the same profession. Although both of them study about the brain, feelings, and thoughts, there are particular differences between these two fields. These differences fall mainly under the education requirements and ways of practice. Here are some examples.

Before one becomes a psychologist, they begin with an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Science or Arts in Psychology. After that, they need to attend a graduate school to acquire a Master’s Degree. They would study for a few years more for a doctoral degree, then the internship. Since they are not medical doctors (MDs), a psychologist can have either a PhD in philosophy or a PsyD in psychology.

Meanwhile, to be a psychiatrist, one is required to enter medical school. Following an undergraduate degree in science, they need to attend a graduate program to complete a medical degree. After attending medical school, they practice three years of residency and a year of internship. They will be required to pass an exam in order to become a licensed medical doctor (MD), and another exam in order to pass as a licensed psychiatrist.

Psychologists diagnose and treat various mental and emotional disorders. They study about different methods of treatment, analytical testing, problem-solving techniques, psychological theory, and behavioral therapy. Practitioners deal with behavioral interventions through psychotherapy, and evaluation. They are also qualified to conduct psychological testing, which is necessary in assessing a person’s mental condition and identifying a suitable course of treatment. Psychologists closely observe a patient’s behavior by monitoring sleep and eating patterns, as well as thoughts that might be the cause of the problem.

Psychiatrists have background majoring in biology and neurochemistry. They have been trained in evaluating underlying medical problems or drug effects that could cause emotional or behavioral symptoms. Because of that, before they diagnose someone as depressed, they make sure that the patient doesn’t have vitamin deficiency or thyroid problem instead. Once a diagnosis is made, psychiatrists prescribe medicine to their patients. They spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment. This is probably the most commonly known distinction between the two fields.

However, even though these are two different professions, a psychologist may consult a psychiatrist about a patient’s medication. On the other hand, a psychiatrist may refer his patient to a psychologist to seek for a behavioral check.

These two professions may be different in many ways, but one thing is for sure: they help their make patients’ lives free from fear and trauma, making life easier for them.