The Difference Between Psychiatrist and Psychologist

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The easiest answer to this question is that psychiatrists practice psychiatry (a medical field that treats mental illnesses and emotional issues) while psychologists practice psychology (the study of the brain and human behaviors). There are, in fact, quite a few differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. The biggest difference is that a psychiatrist is an actual doctor, whereas a psychologist is a therapist or a counselor.

Both perform important functions in regards to addressing mental and emotional disorders, but they have very different functions. In fact many people who face metal or emotional challenges see both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, as the two do different things for their patients. In many cases a psychiatrist and psychologist will even work together on patients, and while some functions overlap, some are different. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.


• A medical doctor who can prescribe medications and treatments for their patients. They must attend medical school and be trained in general medicine. They attend school and attain an MD or doctorate.
• Psychiatrists work to address mental illnesses and they also address emotional issues.
• Psychiatrists focus on physical issues that can affect mental health, while they also perform therapy, they will look for neurological disorders and physical issues that can be addressed to help stabilize mental health.
• Psychiatrists often work closely with other doctors, in hospitals and in medical facilities, working in coordination with other doctors for treatments.


• Psychologists are therapists, they are not doctors. They also attend college and must attain a PhD, not an MD.
• Psychologists address behavioral issues, not physical issues, and address emotional problems and behaviors that arise from them.
• Psychologists address emotional and mental distress with psychotherapy and analytical testing to address underlying behavioral patterns
• Psychologists often work with changing theories and schools of thought to try and isolate emotional or mental causes of psychological issues.

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