Psychiatrists and psychologists: Knowing the difference

Young woman visiting her psychologist
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Wausau, Wis. (WSAW) - While many professions work together to treat patients often times their approaches to help is different.
As part of the weekly, “Doctor Is In” series,

Psychiatry specialist for North Central Health Care Dr. Dileep Borra stopped by to help us understand the key differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is

Psychiatrists and psychologists often work collaboratively in treating clients with mental health problems but there are some important differences.

Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, they can prescribe medications, and they spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.

Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention. They generally do not prescribe psychiatric medications.

Psychiatrists and psychologists also differ greatly in terms of education. Psychiatrists attend medical school and are trained in general medicine.
Psychiatrists attend medical school and are trained in general medicine. After earning an MD, they practice four years of residency training in psychiatry.

Psychologists must obtain a PhD or PsyD doctoral degree, which can take up to four or six years. Throughout their education, psychologists study personality development, the history of psychological problems and the science of psychological research.

The number one thing when thinking about getting help is don’t be afraid to ask. The best approach is to first talk with your primary care physician who will often refer clients to psychotherapy and/or psychiatry.