Psychiatrist Vs. Psychologist

Psychiatrist Vs. Psychologist | What’s the Difference?

If you’re interested in understanding and addressing mental health,  you might be curious what exactly the differences are between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. There are some key distinctions between these two types of mental health professionals, as well as some common misconceptions.  Whether you’re looking for more information and resources for yourself, or for your children,  there are a few things people need to know when looking for the right professional psychological services.

The Main Distinction Between Psychiatrists and Psychologists

The biggest difference is their medical authority. Psychiatrists are practicing medical doctors and can prescribe medication and deliver psychotherapy to treat a range of mental health-related illnesses and disorders.  Psychologists, on the other hand, are trained in the study and modification of human behavior from a philosophical standpoint.

Psychiatrists complete medical school and receive their Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (OD) degree. Psychologists complete a graduate degree and go on to get their doctoral degree as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Both psychiatrists and psychologists complete different levels of training in their field where they receive hands-on experience serving their patients before they complete their certification.

Psychiatrists and Psychologists approach mental health with different tools. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who treat the biological symptoms of their patients, while Psychologists treat cognition and behavior. Psychologists and psychiatrists may work together to treat a patient’s needs, and psychologists might refer patients that they are treating to a psychiatrist for medication and monitoring. 

What Does Treatment Look Like from a Medical Standpoint?

Psychiatrists are qualified to medically treat a wide range of mental health disorders like:

Anxiety and Depression


Bipolar and BPD

Postpartum Depression

They will evaluate patients through one-on-one appointments, various testing and evaluations, and sometimes additional medical testing. From there, they will develop a treatment plan, and may prescribe various treatment medications.

What Does Treatment Look Like from a Cognitive/Behavioral Standpoint?

Patients may seek out, or psychiatrists may refer patients to, a psychotherapist or psychologist for therapy.  These situations are offered in one on one, group therapy, and family therapy models.

Both psychologists and psychiatrists can treat patients in a variety of practices and programs such as 

  • private practices
  • hospitals
  • psychiatric hospitals
  • university medical centers
  • nursing homes
  • prisons
  • rehabilitation programs
  • hospice programs

Both types of mental health professionals can also specialize their training to build focused expertise and serve a specific type of patient. Hudson Psychiatric Associates offers a range of clinical services to enhance and optimize overall function and life satisfaction.

If you’ve decided it’s time to find a clinical medical health professional to meet your specific needs, contact us today to get more information on our resources available to you.