Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: Difference Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: There are two important aspects of psychology: one is a Psychiatrist, and the other is a Psychologist. So, it becomes crucial to know the difference between Psychologist and Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist and a psychologist are two aspects of the mental health career, but they are very different from each other.

A psychiatrist is medically licensed and can prescribe medicines to deal with an individual’s illness. 
On the other hand, psychologists study an individual’s mental health and the various social factors influencing it.
To become a psychiatrist, you need to earn an MBBS, and to become a psychologist, you need to hold a graduate degree and a PhD in Psychology. Given below are a few differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Difference between Psychologist vs Psychiatrist 

There are a set of differences between Psychologists and psychiatrists. The table mentioned above consists of the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. 

Psychologist Psychiatrist 
A psychologist is a trained mental health professional. They complete their bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees to be recognised as clinical psychologists.A psychiatrist is a trained medical professional. They require a doctor of medicine (MD) degree.
Psychologists cannot prescribe medicines to individuals. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications to individuals that will help them deal with their diseases.
Psychologists cannot treat mental health disorders completely, but they can help with mental health issues, stress, etc.They focus mainly on treating mental disorders. 

What is a Psychologist?

A Psychologist is an individual who can treat patients who suffer from psychological problems but cannot prescribe medicines to individuals. They tend to study an individual’s behavior along with the various factors that influence it. On the educational aspect of psychology, one needs to hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology along with a master’s degree and a Doctorate in Psychology. Given below are a few things on which Psychologists focus. 

  • A psychologist deals with problems such as mental health issues, anxiety, depression, phobias, etc.
  • Determinants of behaviour include biological, neurological, genetic, and social determinants.
  • They study the relationship between psychological and physical problems and how they affect individuals.
  • They study addictions, substance use, and abuse (e.g., smoking, alcohol, prescription, and recreational drugs).
  • They talk about marital and familial relationships.
  • They talked about psychological factors related to performance at school, work, recreation, and sport.

What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is an individual who has the medical expertise to deal with an individual’s mental and emotional problems through therapy, medication, etc. They diagnose and treat an individual’s mental illness and provide a range of therapies and drugs to treat their issues. A psychiatrist can intervene in cases where an individual suffers from serious diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Given below are a number of topics on which a Psychiatrist focuses.

  • They identify and diagnose diseases.
  • Talking to patients about their personal and psychological issues.
  • They treat abuse and substance use disorders.
  • They conduct other forms of treatment, such as electroconvulsive therapy and psychotherapy.
  • Coming up with plans to deal with various diseases and issues.

Difference Between Psychologists and Psychiatrists

There are a wide variety of things that differentiate between a Psychologist and a psychiatrist. The factors include educational qualifications, treatment offered, etc. A detailed explanation of the various factors that differentiate a psychologist from a psychiatrist

Educational Qualifications 

The biggest determinant between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is their educational qualifications. A psychologist is not a doctor, but a psychiatrist is. A psychologist has to complete his bachelor’s degree in psychology along with a master’s degree in psychology, and to be a clinical psychologist, they are required to have a PhD. On the contrary, to become a psychiatrist, an individual needs to complete their MBBS. Later, you can enrol in the MD master’s programme for 3 years. A psychologist’s educational qualifications do not allow him to prescribe medicines, but a psychiatrist is allowed to prescribe medicines.

Treatments Provided 

Both Psychologists and Psychiatrists can provide talk-based therapies. Both are considered psychotherapists. Psychologists tend to observe human behaviour and its underlying causes, but they are not allowed to prescribe medicines.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, and they can prescribe medication. They can monitor the bodily processes, as it gives them a hint of the patient’s mental illnesses. For example, due to excess stress, a patient can have high blood pressure and have weight problems as well. 

Conditions that they Diagnose

There are certain conditions that a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist diagnose and treat. A psychiatrist deals with the social and medical aspects of an individual’s needs. They are far more complex in nature than most of what a Psychologist deals with. A psychiatrist deals with severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Someone who harms themselves or tries to commit suicide will be referred to a psychiatrist.

A Psychologist is likely to deal with patients who can be treated with psychological techniques that do not require the use of medical treatments but rather therapies and other psychological tools such as counselling, etc. A psychologist works on anxiety, learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and depression.

Salary Difference between Psychologists and Psychiatrists 

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, and their average salaries range from 1.0 lakh to 22 lahks. The average annual salary for a psychiatrist is Rs 8 lakh. The estimated monthly salary ranges between Rs 59,020 and Rs 60,509. A psychiatrist is a high-paying profession, and it becomes higher with more experience.

A psychologist’s salary ranges from 3.01 lakh to 7.1 lahks. The estimated salary of a psychologist per month ranges from 21,914 to  ₹ 23,374 per month, and it increases as per experience. The experience of an individual and the field they’re working in are huge determinants of their salary.

Career Opportunities for a Psychologist vs Psychiatrist 

There are a wide variety of career opportunities for psychologists and psychiatrists. A psychologist has opportunities for work in academia, consulting, and research. Other options include business, human resources, education, law enforcement, public health, sales and marketing, etc.

The career opportunities for a psychiatrist range mostly within medical institutions. They are capable of working with hospitals, medical clinics, government or judicial systems,  etc. They can also start a private practice of their own.

Who should refer to a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist?

Those who wish to speak about their personal issues, childhood traumas, and family history can refer to a psychologist, as they will be able to vent out their issues and be given better guidance about their issues. 

If an individual is facing issues that are relationship-related or work-related, then they must refer to a psychologist, but if an individual is experiencing debilitating mental health symptoms, then they should refer to a Psychiatrist. If they want medical help and a certain form of relief, they can refer to a psychiatrist.

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FAQs Related to the Difference between Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Does a psychologist and a psychiatrist hold the same educational qualifications?

No, the educational qualifications for psychologists and psychiatrists are different.

Can psychologists prescribe drugs?

No, psychologists cannot prescribe medications. A psychologist can prescribe therapy, and a psychiatrist can prescribe medicines.

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