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The Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist

Psychologist and Psychiatrist
January 13, 2022 Dr. Sheetal No Comments

The Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist

Most of the times we are unaware of the fact that there’s a huge difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and often times confused to whom should we consult if we are going through a tough period of time mentally. There are times when things get rough and tough for us and we look up to someone with whom we can discuss our problems and reach solutions. The first people we look to are our near and dear ones, however, when things become unmanageable, many seek professional help.

To begin with the simple understanding of a psychiatrist is to help a patient with medications, as these are complex issues, mostly chemical imbalances whereas on the other hand a psychologist works on human behaviors, psychology and Individuals who practice Psychology is known as the study how human beings think, behave and feel in different social settings. They are experts in human behavior.

Differences Between Psychiatrists and Psychologists

The major differences between the two lies in many different areas, including their approaches, areas of work and educational path. Contrary to what most people believe, they are not one and the same thing. Psychiatrists, as I mentioned are medical doctors. Psychologists, while they treat mental disorders, are not restricted to it.

Here are the ways in which they differ:

  1. Psychologists treats issues with therapies and psychiatrists with medications: – As I’ve mentioned earlier those psychologists are experts in human behavior so they work on one’s behavior with the help of different sorts of therapies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Psycho-dynamic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy etc. They are also qualified in conducting psychometric tests, which evaluate a person’s mental state and personal attributes to determine the right course of action for the client. They also do perform psychoanalysis based on the condition of the one suffering. Sometimes a psychologist may refer you to a psychiatrist if required, in addition with the therapies, completely depending on the condition of the client. While psychiatrists are qualified medical practitioner who use medications to help treat all sorts of mental issues which are complex in nature.  Psychiatrists are practicing in various complex domains like de-addiction, ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc.
  2. Psychiatrists primarily deal with mental disorders. For Psychologists, it is just one branch. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and thus they mainly work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, mental health clinics or private practice. Within the domain of medicine, their specialization is mental health and their work only concerns that. Psychiatrists can specialize further in the field of mental health, including areas such as Forensic Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, Clinical Neurophysiology, Pain Management, Sleep Medicine, Brain Injury Medicine, etc.On the other hand, since Psychology is the study of human mind and behavior, it can be applied to virtually all fields, mental health being one. The word “Psychologist” is an umbrella term for many different sub-fields of Psychology such as Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Child Psychology, Sports Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Educational Psychology, and more. Psychology graduates can choose to specialize in any of them, depending on their interest. Thus, Psychologists don’t always work with mental disorders.
  3.  Psychiatry requires a degree in Medicine. Psychologist requires a UG & PG degree in Psychology: A Psychiatrist is a physician with a medical degree in Psychiatry. To be a psychiatrist you will first have to complete your MBBS, followed by an M.D. in Psychiatry. Thus, a total of 7.5 years of study (5.5 years of MBBS + 2 years of M.D.) are required.

To build a career as a psychologist, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology followed by a Master’s degree in Psychology. To practice as a Clinical Psychologist (treating mental disorders), you require an additional 2 years of study to obtain an M.Phil. in Clinical Psychology. A total of 5 to 7 years of study (3 years of B.A. + 2 years of M.A. + 2 years if you go for an M.Phil.) are required.


I hope after going through this post, I have made this clear that these both are two completely different professionals. With said that, if you are looking for a loved one to get a treatment, depending upon the condition you may either visit a psychiatrist or a psychologist. If you think you want to consult a psychologist, feel free to mail us at drsheetalsharma2018@gmail.com or simply book an appointment by calling us at +919466450000.

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