What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

“Elderly Lady in Training” commented that she had some difficulty rating the blog. She didn’t realize that the comment which you entered had to be verified vía your email. This prevents spammers going in and making false positive or negative ratings. I missed that part too. So I went back and checked. Sure enough, this is what it says:   Your e-mail address is used only for verification purposes only and will not be sold, or shown publicly.

The more I think about it, I like the idea of verification. You’d be surprised to know that since I started the blog, there have been 1752 spammers trying to make comments about the blog. 95% of them either take you to an XXX rated site using foul sexually explicit language or trying to sell things such as Viagra, etc. I almost approved one of the XXX comments last week. To think that you would have seen that on the blog………Lord have mercy!

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I started working on the Boys and Sports logic puzzle. So far, so good.

One of the most popular question I have received from people during my medical career is this.


What’s the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

By Kendra Van Wagner, About.com

It’s an important difference to understand, whether you are a student of psychology or a consumer searching for a mental health provider. The terms “psychologist” and “psychiatrist” are often used interchangeably to describe anyone who provides therapy services. While psychologists and psychiatrists both conduct psychotherapy and research, there are significant differences between the two professions.

Education, Training, and Credentials

The simple answer is that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, while a psychologist is not. Educational background is the most obvious difference between psychiatrists and psychologists.

Psychologists receive graduate training in psychology and pursue either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in clinical or counseling psychology. Doctorate programs typically take five to seven years to complete and most states require an additional one or two year long internship in order to gain licensure. Other states require an addition year or two of supervised practice before granting full licensure.

The title of “psychologist” can only be used by an individual who has completed the above education, training, and state licensure. Informal titles such as “counselor” or “therapist” are often used as well, but other mental health care professionals such as licensed social workers can also claim these titles.

Psychiatrists are physicians to have specific training in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists attend medical school and receive an M.D. After completing medical training, they complete an additional four years of residency training in mental health. In addition to this, some receive additional training in a specific area of interest such as geriatric psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, addictions and other areas.

Prescribing Medications

A second important distinction between the two careers is that psychiatrists can prescribe medication, while psychologists cannot. There has been a recent push to grant prescribing powers to psychologists, with states such as New Mexico and Louisiana now allowing psychologists to write prescriptions after consulting with a psychiatrist.

Which is Better?

If you are considering a career as a therapist, you will need to determine which career path is best for you. Are you interested in conducting psychotherapy, administering psychological tests, and conducting research? If so, a career as a psychologist may be the best choice for you.

If you have an interest in medicine and want to be able to prescribe medications to your patients, a career in psychiatry might be your ideal choice. If you don’t want to invest five to eight years in graduate training, consider pursuing a career as a licensed social worker or counselor, which typically requires two or three years of graduate study. Psychiatric nursing is another great career option for students interested in medicine. Advanced Psychiatric Nurses hold a Master’s degree or higher in psychiatric-mental health nursing and are able to assess patients, diagnose disorders, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medications.


Fettucine Alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults.

Warmly………David

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5 Responses

  1. Thank you for gently educating us, as well as giving us tools to help us exercise our mental capacities …

    One of the reasons I read your blog is that I’ve always been curious about psychiatry and what pychiatrists do. By education and training I’m a mathematician and an engineer, so I understand logic, I understand how machines work, and I know how to diagnose and fix systems when they aren’t working properly.

    I imagine that psychiatrists must to some degree work in similar ways – ie understand how people work and know how to fix them when something goes wrong. What I find hard to grasp, however, is how talking helps fix things. There seems to be no parallel between curing psychiatric patients by talking to them (or maybe listening to them) and fixing a car or an IT system by .. what would the equivalent of talking be when fixing a car or a IT system?

    Please forgive my ignorance and naivety, but if you have the capacity to teach us more about your profession, and how you achieve results, I for one would be very interested.

    This is getting to be a very long comment, but I must just say that the vast majority of us never get the opportunity to converse with a psychiatrist. And given that psychiatrists seem, as I understand it, to help people to behave in ways that is normal and healthy for them, it has to be one of the most satisfying – and worthwhile – of jobs.

    • Excellent comment! What I find hard to grasp, however, is how talking helps fix things.

      It might be just a good topic for me to post on. If you have this question, I’m sure others do too.

      David

  2. I think you are getting more funny as the blog continues. It is great if I haven’t told you already.

    Continue you good happy and laughing days, Hope

    P.S. Can’t figure the kenken puzzles out!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Could any kenkeners write an emal to Hope to see if you can help her?

      Thanks……….. David

  3. David, as usual, I had my first Monday laugh reading your story about XXX sites and what could’ve happened if you posted one on the blog!:)) You are blessed (really BLESSED) with an excelent sense of humor, and blessing the rest of us too.
    About the question on how to fix a psychiatry patient by talking, I was thinking that that’s what most psychologists do, but in psychiatry there is also the use of medicines, right? So I guess you can compare the combination of medicines and talking with the parts that are worn or not functioning in an engine, and need to be replaced. Besides, a car is a purely mechanical thing, while a person is a living being, with a living brain and a live spirit…
    That’s, of course, “psychiatry according to Raquel”. I’m sure there is a much deeper explanation and I’m waiting to read it.

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