The Role of a Psychiatrist vs. A Psychologist:

What’s the Difference?

In the modern world mental health has become more important for people. There are a variety of professionals who help people cope with various psychological issues and disorders. There are many similarities among these professionals, but they also have some important differences. 

Each of them has their own unique set of skills that make them experts in their field. Let’s take a look at how these two roles differ.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialization in mental health. 

Psychiatrists can: diagnose and treat mental illness; prescribe medications; provide psychotherapy (talk therapy). 

A psychiatrist will likely ask you questions about your symptoms, past experiences, and any medications you’ve tried. They will also likely administer a few different types of tests to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. These tests may include lab tests to see if you have any underlying medical issues as well as psychological tests to help the psychiatrist gauge your mental health.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

Psychologists are professionals who have studied psychology at the graduate level and have been licensed to practice as psychologists. Psychologists usually focus on the “why” of a person’s behavior rather than the “what” that psychiatrists focus on. 

Psychologists use a variety of assessment and treatment techniques to help people with a variety of issues, including but not limited to: 

When a person meets with a psychologist, they are often asked to complete some type of questionnaire or psychological assessment. This helps the psychologist get a good idea of your current mental health and habits, and how they may be affecting you. After reviewing this information, the psychologist may ask you a few questions, give you some feedback, and provide you with some resources to help you through your current challenges. 

Psychologists are trained in many different therapeutic techniques, but they do not prescribe medications. Psychologists typically work with individuals on a long-term basis and often meet with their clients once a week.

How to Tell If You’re Meeting with the Right Professional

If you’re meeting with a therapist and you’re not sure if they’re the right professional for you, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out if they fit your needs. 

These include: 

Are they licensed? 

Does their office have a good reputation? 

Do they have experience treating people with similar challenges as you? 

And do they have good references from past clients? 

These are just a few questions you can use to help you determine if a professional is the best fit for you. Keep in mind that not all therapists are created equally. 

You may want to meet with a few different therapists before you find one that really clicks with you. You can also ask friends or family members if they have any recommendations for therapists they’ve worked with in the past who they’d recommend.

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