When it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, there are two different types of professionals who may be involved – they are a psychiatrist and a psychologist. This often creates a bit of confusion as to what the difference is between the two and whether or not one is potentially a better choice than the other when it comes to treatment options.
The easiest way to gain an understanding of the difference between the two is probably to look at and compare the educational requirements of the two jobs.
If you want to become a psychiatrist you will need to take the same study path as if you were going to become a doctor of medicine. So you’ll need to go to college and study an undergraduate degree, majoring in some sort of science based subject, before going on to graduate studies and completing your MD. From there you would then look at doing your residence in psychiatry so that you have the necessary education and training to commence work as a certified psychiatrist.
On the other hand if you were looking to become a psychologist then you would take a different path. Your undergraduate major would more than likely be psychology, although there are some other subjects that you could choose to major in instead. After completion of this degree you would also need to commence graduate studies, and go on to earn either a Masters degree, a Doctorate, or possibly both in some sort of psychology related field.
So the simple difference between the two is that a psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor, while a psychologist is not.
This means that a psychiatrist is able to prescribe medications, while a psychologist must refer their patients to a psychiatrist if they feel medication is required.
A psychologist will be focused more on treating their patients using such techniques as psychotherapy and counseling.
They will be dealing with people with a range of mental disorders if they are working as a clinical psychologist. A counseling psychologist will focus more on areas such as marital counseling or addiction counseling where the problems are more behavioral related as opposed to being a diagnosed mental disorder.
One of the big differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is in their potential earnings.
Because a psychiatrist is medically trained they can expect to earn a much higher salary than the psychologist.
That’s not to say that the salary of the psychologist is anything to be sniffed at – but the psychiatrist will generally earn much more.
Both career choices require much study and commitment, so if you are thinking about becoming one or the other then you need to be prepared for close to a decade of study and training.
But you will be rewarded with an interesting career that offers plenty of room to specialize and move into areas which are of greater interest to you personally.