What is the Difference between Psychiatry and Psychology?

Jul 28, 2010 • By • 487 Views

Unless you have previous experience within the field of mental health, you may not be aware of the difference between psychiatry and psychology. According to Dr. Lisa Alloju, a psychiatrist practicing in Fort Worth, Texas, "Many people aren't aware of the difference between the two professions. Of course there is the common thread of helping people with psychological problems. However, if you are seeking treatment it is important to understand what separates a psychiatrist from a psychologist."

Psychiatry vs. Psychology

The education required to become a psychiatrist or a psychologist is different and dictates what types of services they can provide.

A psychiatrist must obtain a bachelors degree, then complete four years of medical school to attain a M.D. or D.O. degree.  Medical school is followed by four years of residency training in psychiatry, most often in a hospital's psychiatric unit.  Just as a neurologist has specialized training in order to diagnose neurological problems, so does a psychiatrist have specialized training in order to diagnose mental disorders.  "Like any other medical doctor, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication as warranted," says Dr. Lisa Alljou.

A psychologist, on the other hand, may pursue different degrees. Required schooling ranges from five to seven years. There are those psychologists that focus strictly on scientific research and there are those that focus on working with individuals, families and groups, providing counseling services.  Some psychologists administer and interpret psychological tests which help to determine what type of treatment an individual will require.  Although not permitted to prescribe medications, the psychologist works with a psychiatrist if it is believed medication is necessary.

Psychiatrists and Psychologists Work Together

Although the professions are different, psychiatrists and psychologist often work together.

Dr. Alloju explained, "I often work with psychologists.  Many of my patients need counseling in addition to medications, in which case I will refer to a qualified psychologist.  Typically, these patients respond more quickly and more robustly to a combination of medications and counseling than they would to medications alone."

For further information on treatment options for mental and emotional problems, contact Doctor Lisa Alloju.

About the Author

Jeremy Dean Jeremy Dean

Jeremy Dean is in his final year as medical student in one of the university in North Texas. He is currently interviewing doctors in...

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