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Psychologists and Psychiatrists

The difference between psychologists and 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:

Services provided

Psychologists help mentally healthy people find ways of functioning better. Some psychologists specialise in treating people with a mental illness. Read about the common reasons why people see psychologists.

Psychiatrists mainly treat people with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

Education and qualifications

Psychologists study Psychology and/or Behavioural Science in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience/training and gaining registration. Psychologists do not have a medical degree, however many study for a similar number of years to specialise in various aspects of psychology. For example, clinical psychologists study for at least six years to attain their qualifications before training. Read about the qualifications of APS Psychologists.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree, which involves six years of studying general medicine, followed by further study to specialise in psychiatry.

Prescribing medication

Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Their treatments are based on changing behaviour without medication. There is a considerable amount of evidence showing psychological treatments are as effective in  many cases, as drugs.

Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Some combine medication with other forms of therapy.