Regardless of whether it was through watching episodes of Fraiser or The Sopranos, it’s fair to say most people are familiar with both psychiatrists and psychologists.

But, impressions of being told to talk about our feelings often cloud the reality of what is a crucial profession for our mental health. Now more and more of us are becoming aware of the great help that they provide. To this point, almost 20% of Americans have seen a therapist of some kind during 2019.

But have you ever wondered what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Well, our overview will leave you with a great understanding of all you need to know about the two professions.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in mental health. Their means of treating patients will usually involve a blend of psychotherapy and medication.

This highlights the biggest difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

A psychiatrist such as those at, will first go to medical school for 4 years. There they learn all the fundamentals of medical science. They then will go on to do a 4-year residency in both hospital and outpatient environments. There they put into practice the general medical care they have learned and hone their skills in diagnosing and treating a variety of cases.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

Psychologists are professionals who focus on assisting those with mental and emotional disorders.

The main tool used by them is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. They do this by means of interviews, observation, and surveys. This way they are able to isolate what may be the underlying causes for the issues that their patients may face.

Although they also have to study for many years, a psychologist will study for and get a Ph.D. instead of an MD. This means that while they do have a range of treatment options available to them, they are unable to write up prescriptions, bar in a few cases in the US.

Psychiatrist vs Psychologist: Who Should I See?

The first thing to note is that contrary to how it may seem, there is no cold war going on between the two professions. Most psychiatrists and psychologists work together. In fact, many psychologists often refer their patients to psychiatrists.

The difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist patient often comes down to how severe their mental condition is.

Psychiatrists are best suited to treating more engrained mental conditions like schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. This is due to the physiological nature of these conditions.

Psychiatrists are capable of deciding which medication will greatly help in easing symptoms. They also will provide follow-up treatment and observations. They also will provide follow-up treatment and observations.

Psychologists are skilled at treating patients whose circumstances can be greatly improved by learning and applying certain patterns of behavior. The typical conditions that people will see a psychologist for include depression, anxiety, and also learning and behavioral difficulties.

Understanding the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist

As we have been able to see, the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is quite clear. We hope our breakdown has been useful in helping to understand the nuances between these two noble professions.

If you enjoyed this article then please check out the other great medically-based content on our site!