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Brenda Dolieslager

Difference Between Psychologists & Psychiatrists

Psychologists and psychiatrists both work in the area of mental health, and often work together. However, there are some significant differences between the two professions in the following areas.

Qualifications

Psychologists study human behaviour in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience and gaining registration.  They do not have a medical degree; however, many have postgraduate qualifications to specialise in various aspects of psychology, including mental illness.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree, which involves six years of studying general medicine, followed by further study to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and emotional problems.

Services Provided
Psychologists assist people with everyday problems such as stress and relationship difficulties, and some (clinical psychologists) specialise in treating people with a mental illness.  They help people to develop the skills needed to function better and to prevent ongoing problems.
 
Psychiatrists treat the effects of emotional disturbances on the body and the effects of physical conditions on the mind.
Prescribing Medication
Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.  Their treatments are based on changing behaviour and emotional responses without medication.  There is a considerable amount of evidence showing psychological treatments are effective.
 
Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Some combine medication with other forms of therapy.
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