Difference between psychologist and psychiatrist


If you’ve considered seeing a mental health professional, you may have thought of a psychologist or psychiatrist. And you’ve probably thought that both terms refer to the same thing. However, there are differences between psychologists and psychiatrists. And, in fact, they deal with different problems. In order to assist with who you really need, you must know the differences between these professionals. That way you can identify which one is the right one to treat your situation.

Before we start, we want to congratulate you for being in this post. For some people it is not easy to admit that they need psychological or psychiatric help. You should never feel ashamed to seek help for your mental health. Never hesitate to seek professional help if you think you need it.

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What is a psychologist and what is a psychiatrist?

You should know that both are mental health professionals. Both must go to college to practice their professions.

Psychologists have a long college education. They graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. To treat mental illness, they must specialize. This major must be in clinical psychology.


In the meantime, psychiatrists must first study medicine. That is, they must first graduate as doctors. After graduating, they must specialize in psychiatry. In conclusion, psychiatry is a specialization of medicine.

Both professionals can work together or with other specialties for the physical and mental well-being of their patients.

How do psychologists differ from psychiatrists?

Type of problems they treat

The main difference lies in the type of problems they address. Psychiatrists treat diseases with biological and physiological components. These can be diseases associated, for example, with a hormonal deficit. The disorders treated by psychiatrists are usually associated with abnormalities in the chemical interactions of the nervous system.

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Psychologists, on the other hand, are faced with behavioral problems of their patients. Through psychotherapy, psychologists help their patients understand the origin of some behaviors. This leads to an understanding of whether the patient has any dysfunctional behavior and how to change it. Psychologists influence their patients on different levels. They can affect their behavior on a social or emotional level, as individuals, among others.

It is important that psychologists and psychiatrists can make correct diagnoses and know when to refer their patients to another specialist. Generally, psychologists and psychiatrists must work together for the well-being of their patients.

Methods and treatments

Among psychologists and psychiatrists, the only ones who can prescribe medication are psychiatrists. As mentioned above, psychiatrists are charged with studying disorders associated with chemical balance in the nervous system. Many times the way to compensate for any chemical imbalance is through drugs.


On the other hand, psychologists cannot prescribe medication. However, psychologists must be able to identify when a patient may need them. This way they can refer their patients to psychiatrists or other specialists who can prescribe the necessary medications.

The way psychologists treat is more associated with a communication relationship with the patient. Through effective communication, the psychologist and the patient will be able to reach the causes of the problem. And from that moment on, the psychologist will be in charge of providing the patient with tools and methods with which the patient can begin his or her transformation process.

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Don’t be afraid to seek help

Regardless of the differences between these two specialties, the priority for mental health professionals should be their patients. Both professionals must be able to work together to achieve the well-being of the people they care for. And, in this way, improve their quality of life.


Now that you know the differences, you can decide if you need to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Remember that the most important thing is that you decide to take the step of seeking help. The professionals will diagnose you so that you can receive the treatment you need. Recognizing that you may need professional help is a very brave decision. Always keep in mind that it is normal to go to a doctor when you suffer from a physical illness. The same is true when you have a mental illness.

Did you know the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Have you ever been in a situation that led you to seek professional help? Which of the two specialists did you go to? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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