Do you know the difference between Psychology & Psychiatry? Psychologists and Psychiatrists are often confused with one another. At our outpatient mental health center in Delray Beach, we often receive calls from prospective patients asking for one when what they actually want is the other. Luckily, our program includes both psychologists and psychiatrists, but it is still important to educate the general public on the differences, so they can better advocate for their care.
While both study the brain, emotions, feelings and thoughts, there is a distinct difference between the two fields of study. The main difference is in schooling and training. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have attended medical school and chosen to specialize in psychiatry. They are typically either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor in Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Psychiatrists (and psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychopharmacologists) are able to prescribe medication to treat mental health symptoms, like antidepressants. Some psychiatrists also provide talk therapy as part of their treatment.
The scientific process of knowing the human mind as well as its behavior is known as psychology whereas the branch of medicine that deals with the emotional and the metal illness is known as psychiatry. Psychologists typically have either a Masters or a Doctorate in the field of Psychology. While some psychologists specialize in the research of mental illness, the psychologists most people encounter are clinicians who provide psychotherapy. A psychologist who is licensed to provide therapy usually will have a PsyD as their credentials and are also considered doctors, just not medical doctors.
In many mental health treatment settings, psychologists and psychiatrists work hand-in-hand to fully treat their patients. A psychiatrist provides concrete mental health diagnosis and prescribes medication to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood swings and so forth. While under the care of a psychiatrist, a patient may also attend psychotherapy sessions facilitated by a psychologist. In those sessions, individuals process past trauma or grief, and learn new behavior techniques and coping skills to help improve their lives.