25 January,2021 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
When it comes to seeking help for a mental illness or any kind of mental problems, two names come to mind: Psychologists and Psychiatrists. But who do we approach? Psychologists and psychiatrists are both trained in the same practice of mental health care, yet the treatments they offer vary on the type of mental condition. If you are seeking someone to counsel for mental illnesses, whom do you approach?
Read on to understand what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.
While both psychologists and psychiatrists essentially study the same subject of mental health, their approach to the subject is very different.
A psychiatrist studies to get a medical degree in the field of mental health either to attain an MD (doctor of medicine) or DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine). After they graduate with either of the degrees, they write an exam to gain a license to practice their field in a chosen state.
They are then required to continue the practice for a minimum of four years in a hospital under supervision from senior doctors. Psychiatrists must also renew their practice certifications every 10 years.
A psychologist studies a graduate program in medicine for a period of four or six years to attain a PhD (doctor of philosophy) or PsyD (doctor of psychology) degree. They will also be required to complete an exam to gain license in a chosen state to practice professionally.
Being certified medical professionals, psychiatrists are authorised to diagnose and treat documented cases of mental illness. You would usually find a psychiatrist employed at a major hospital, a rehabilitation centre, a medical university, nursing homes or practicing in a private institution.
Psychologists are not authorised to prescribe medications. Instead, they recommend talk therapies and exercises that are best suited for mild mental conditions, and this is all done through careful observation and counselling with their patients. They are also found in similar places as psychiatrists but prefer setting up a private practice.
Before you approach a psychiatrist or a psychologist, you must first consider the kind of mental health issues you are facing. If someone you care about is undergoing lots of stress and shows signs of anxiety and depression, it is best to consult a psychologist. Psychologists will take them through mental therapy sessions to ease their troubled mind.
Psychiatrists are best consulted when a person is undergoing severe cases of mental illness. This is evident through extreme fluctuations in mood, behaviour and an unusual pattern of disruptions in daily living due to mental health issues. The psychiatrist will be able to diagnose the issue and provide the best medications to help control their mental state.
There are many cases where consulting both a psychologist and psychiatrist can prove beneficial. The two normally work in tandem, when it comes to diagnosing and treating a mental illness.
On the financial front, make sure you have medical insurance to cover for the medications and if needed, medical therapies that a psychiatrist would recommend. Psychologists normally split their fees on a monthly or per-visit basis.
When you have decided whom to consult, it’s best to be well prepared before your first visit. One good way to get comfortable with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist is to have a list of questions you should ask to break the ice and get familiar with them.
Both psychologists and psychiatrists are equally capable in their field to work with mental illness. No one is better than the other, they are experts in their own areas of specialization and effective results are seen when both of them work together to improve an individual’s mental wellbeing.