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Psychologist versus Psychiatrist: What is the Difference?

psychologist and a psychiatrist

Do you know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologist and psychiatrist are two terms that are often confused. But these two terms mean completely different things. While they both study the brain, emotions, thoughts, and feelings, there are some distinct differences between the two fields of study. Let’s take a look at each of these positions and their differences.


One of the biggest differences in these fields of study is their actual education. These two professionals differ greatly in their training. Psychiatrists attend medical school and are trained in general medicine. After earning a medical degree, they practice four years of residency training in psychiatry and typically work in a psychiatric unit of a hospital with a variety of patients. These patients can vary in age and behavioral disorders and mental illnesses. Psychologists must obtain a Doctor of Psychology or a Ph.D. doctoral degree in order to practice. These programs can take up to four or six years to complete. Throughout their education, psychologists study personality development and science of psychological research. Graduate schools provide rigorous training for a career in psychology by teaching students how to diagnose a patient in varying situations. After school, psychology students do an internship for one or two years then a one or two-year practical work experience that is supervised by a mental health professional.


Another major difference is the treatment you will receive from each of these professionals. When seeing a psychiatrist, you may be prescribed medications. Psychiatrists are trained medical professionals that are trained in medicine. These professionals will often spend time with their patients on discussing medication management throughout the course of their treatment. Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in their patients with behavioral problems. Psychologists are also qualified to conduct tests used to assessing a person’s mental state and to determine the most effective treatment for the patient. These are two very different fields of study but when working together, these professionals can be used to treat any mental illnesses. For more information on talking to our psychologists or psychiatrists, call Family Service Foundation today!

Welcome to Family Service Foundation, Inc.!

Family Service Foundation, Inc. has been serving the greater Maryland area since 1936. This nonprofit organization helps Maryland residents across a span of different areas such as mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse, and provides interpretation for deaf and deaf-blind individuals. To learn more about cerebral palsy or other developmental disabilitiesvisit here. Do you “Follow” and “Like?” Be sure to stay active on our official pages on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Pinterest today!