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What Is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

The work of psychologists and psychiatrists has much in common. Both psychologists and psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy and counseling services. Both psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to diagnose neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions plus psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders and dysfunctions. Both professionals are granted the right to make such diagnoses by law while other doctors cannot. Both psychologists and psychiatrists help people maintain and enhance their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning.


However, there are some important differences in training and special skills. Psychiatrists, as medical doctors, can prescribe medications for psychological distress. Psychologists do not prescribe medications, instead focusing their treatment on psychotherapy. In addition, psychologists are the only mental health professionals who are fully trained and qualified to use psychological tests.


The education of psychologists provides knowledge of psychological and emotional problems, personality, and human development, integrated with specialized training in how to apply this knowledge to helping people with emotional distress and other problems in living. The psychologist's training in research allows them to evaluate the best ways to help people and to make decisions on what helps and what doesn't help different people with various situations.


Psychologists also specialize in psychological testing. Psychological tests are used in situations where there are questions about what a person's particular problem is. For example, a psychologist may use psychological tests to determine whether a child has a learning disorder. Psychologists also use psychological tests in legal cases or any time there is uncertainty about what is troubling an individual Psychological tests can include assessments of personality styles, tests of emotional well-being, intellectual (or "IQ") tests, tests of academic achievement and tests for possible brain damage. The use of psychological tests requires years of training that involves not only learning how to give the tests, but also how to integrate all the information from a variety of tests, background information, interviews, and knowledge of theories, research, psychological problems, personalities, and human development. Psychologists are the only mental health professionals who are fully trained and qualified to use psychological tests.


It is important to be aware that there can be broad differences in training and philosophy among psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other therapists which can often lead to widely differing treatment approaches and understandings of psychological and emotional problems.


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 529

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