Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: How to Choose

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Difference between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Sometimes a person is going through something that they just can’t handle or don’t know how to handle. Others times we just need someone to talk to. In serious cases, we need to get past something that we just can’t do alone. For those people and these times, we have psychologists and psychiatrists. Although they both sound pretty much the same, these two people are very different. They have gone to school for a different period of time and they majored in different subjects.



The definition of psychiatrist is a physician who diagnoses and helps aid those with a mental illness.  A psychologist on the other hand is actually a social scientist who studies mental processes and behavior, usually in a clinical or research setting. The two differ because a psychologist studies behaviors of people and their habits as well as perform clinical trials and does research. A psychiatrist on the other hand took courses in medical and prescribes medication for patients while listening to them talk. They don’t study behaviors of people like psychologists do.


The two also differ in the way that they treat their patience. A psychologist will perform CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy as well as psychotherapy. Their therapies tend to do more with ones behavior and mental state. They try to identify the problem and tackle them with different methods. A psychiatrist on the other hand, does therapy dealing with medications or psychotherapy. Sometimes they also dabble in electroconvulsive therapy. They don’t deal with ones behaviors and emotions like psychologist do.


The big difference between the two are whether they prescribe medication or not to their patients. A psychiatrist does prescribe medication to their patience if they feel that they need it in order to get over their mental illnesses. A psychologist on the other hand does not prescribe medication but may redirect a patient to a psychiatrist if they believe they need medication. However, that is fairly slim because psychologists don’t normally believe in medicine as a cure for mental illnesses. A psychiatrist can give a wide variety of pharmaceutical meds to their patients because unlike psychologists they did take majors in medicine and pharmaceuticals to properly diagnose and distribute medicines. They work around the clock to make sure their giving the proper meds to the proper people.


  • While a psychiatrist does prescribe medication to its patients, they also work with other forms of therapies if they don’t feel medicine is needed.
  • Some people truly can’t get better just by talking, but a psychologist can try behavioral therapies instead of medication if they feel they can help the person get better with those therapies.
  • A psychologist goes to school for psychology while a psychiatrist goes to school for psych as well as medical.
  • They both believe in helping people and their mental problems to the best of their abilities.
  • Although they both believe in different practices, they will find a way to help you and your mental illnesses or behavioral problems. 

Which doc is better at talking to clients?
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist

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