What is the Difference Between A Psychologist and A Psychiatrist

by cadabamshospital

25 January,2021 | Reading Time: 4 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.

Educational Background

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.  

Approach to Treatments

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. 

Whom to Consult

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. 

Important Questions to Ask

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. 

Some questions to ask your psychiatrist: 

  1. What are the treatment options available? 
  2. How long is the medication process?
  3. Are there any side effects of the treatment?
  4. Will I develop a dependency of the medication?
  5. What happens if I skip treatment? 

Some questions to ask your psychologist:  

  1. How long have you been in practice? 
  2. Describe your ideal patient?
  3. How long will the sessions be? 
  4. Do you work independently? 
  5. How much do you charge? 


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.

At Cadabam’s, we believe in a multi-approach for the best outcome. Meet the best of the psychiatrist and the psychologist who work hand in hand to give you the best treatment.


1.Is it better to see a psychiatrist or psychologist?

Ans. A question that everyone faces when they seek help for mental health , psychiatrist vs psychologist, whom to choose? Well, the answer depends, If you feel you need medication for your condition, you can approach a psychiatrist. However, if you feel you do not want to take the medication route, you can consult a psychologist. Further, if you feel undecided, a psychologist would be a good starting point. 

2.How is a psychologist different from a psychiatrist?

Ans. What is the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist? A question we have been asked innumerable times. Psychiatrists and Psychologists come from different educational backgrounds. They differ in their expertise as well. Psychiatrists are certified medical professionals with a background of studying medicine. Psychologists approach mental health from a different perspective and have to attain a degree of PhD ( Doctor of Philosophy). Psychiatrists can prescribe medication while psychologists have 

 3.Is a psychologist a Doctor?

Ans. A psychologist is a trained mental health professional who has completed a PhD. This is where the difference between psychiatrist and psychologist lies. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication while a psychologist focuses on the therapeutic approach to recovery. A psychologist uses approaches like REBT, CBT, Counselling and many other approaches to ensure you complete full recovery. 

4.What can a psychologist diagnose?


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