Psychologists vs. Psychiatrists vs. Therapist: What’s the Difference? What’s Right For You?

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

Psychologists vs. Psychiatrists vs. Therapist: What’s the Difference? What’s Right For You?

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists all play an important role in the world of mental health alongside those of counselors and therapists. But, when you first decide to reach out to a professional to discuss any mental or emotional struggles you may be having, you may be uncertain which one you should reach out to.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists are highly qualified in the work that they do, but all are also suited for very specific roles with some differences.

If you aren’t sure what is right for you, discover the difference between these professionals so that you can meet with the right person for your needs.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist is a medical professional who is licensed by the state as a medical doctor specializing in mental healthy and psychiatric care.  Psychiatrists tend to have a good knowledge base on various psychological theories and approaches but their main focus of care tend to lean towards that of psychotropic medication.  This professional can assess, diagnoses, and treat both the mental and physical aspects of your psychological problems. For example, if there is a chemical imbalance that causes someone to fall into deep states of depression, a psychiatrist can consider this along with the emotional toll that the depression takes.

One of the main variables that set a psychiatrist apart from all other mental health professionals is that they can help their patients alleviate symptoms through prescription medication if they think that is the best course of action.

Related: When to See a Psychiatrist: 8 Signs It’s Time 

What Does a Psychologist Do?

A psychologist is a mental health professional that tend to lean a little more towards the research and testing side of diagnoses. They have an advanced degree in psychology, but they are not medical doctors and are unable to prescribe medications. Psychologists receive extensive training and spend several hours in research practice as they tend to have more of an interest towards diagnosing through testing. They are often involved with clinical research and act as social scientists who study human behavior and mental processes.

Psychologists may also act as therapists and counselors and work directly with clients in a clinical setting.

What About Therapists and Counselors?

Therapists and counselors take a much more clinical route all around. Therapists and counselors can take on research roles similar to those of psychologists but generally appreciate the face to face clinical aspect a bit more.

Therapists and counselors have a much more practical approach and focus on treating patients using various modalities or techniques on a regular and ongoing basis. They may use some testing or may choose not to and they are also unable to prescribe medication. However, a good therapist will always prompt you for information on medical background to ensure that there is nothing out of balance or missed that could be influencing symptoms you are describing.

Therapists and counselors work with clients and can address a variety of issues that might not have medical roots. For example, therapists work as mediators with couples when they are fighting. They will provide tools for them to communicate better and handle conflict. In this case, medical intervention isn’t needed. They also work with individuals who are dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, life changes, and other personal and emotional issues.

Related: How to Find the Right Counseling Services for You

The Relationship Between Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Therapists

Both therapists and psychologists might recommend that their clients seeing a psychiatrist if they suspect that a patient’s mental state is tied to a medical condition. However, they can also work in tandem with a psychiatrist to help patients reach healthy states of mind through both medication and therapy-based programs.

What’s Right for You?

One of the major misconceptions of mental health is that medication can fix all of your problems so people often rush into seeing a psychiatrist. But while medication can help with certain disorders, many patients still need therapy to learn about themselves and how to work through their daily lives as many psychiatrists don’t spend the time with patients addressing the day to day behavioral habits that could be causing distress.

Additionally, people respond differently to medications, and a psychiatrist will want their patients to keep seeking therapy while they find the right medications for their needs.

Every patient is unique, which means there is no way to make a blanket assumption as to whether one person needs to see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.

Often, patients act based on the recommendations of the mental health professionals that they meet with to help them decide what is right for them.

For example, a general physician may recommend seeking psychotherapy through a therapist. After a session or two, that therapist may recommend meeting with a psychiatrist to address underlying issues that could be helped with medication. The patient may continue to see the therapist, but will also meet with the psychiatrist to adjust their medication from time to time. The two work together.

Loving Life Therapists and Psychiatrists Work Together

At Loving Life Today, we have a team of psychiatrists and therapists who work together within the same office to serve our clients.

This makes it easy for patients to meet with both types of mental health professionals if it is needed. As you start your journey toward good mental health, you won’t feel like you are getting bounced around to different offices or meeting with too many people. You can provide clear feedback on your experience and find the balance you need.

Our goal is to make it easy for you to seek treatment, whether that involves therapy or prescription medical treatment through a psychiatrist.

Get Guidance From Loving Life Today

If you feel like you need help with your mental or emotional health, but aren’t sure what is right for you, Loving Life Today is here to help.

We can schedule a general intake appointment for you to meet with our patient coordinator. At that time, they can learn about you and your situation and help guide you to the right plan and provider. You don’t have to weigh the pros and cons between a psychiatrist vs psychologist vs therapist on your own. They will guide you through the process.

Schedule a Psychiatrist Appointment Today

Or, if you already feel like your anxiety or depression may be part of a deeper chemical issue in your brain, you can make an appointment to see a psychiatrist at Loving Life Today. Our psychiatrists work with patients who have a variety of symptoms, including stress, anxiety, trouble focusing, difficulty sleeping, depression, and manic episodes — and are here to help.

It is better to reach out in the event that you do need help than to stay quiet and suffer through these mental challenges alone. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 813-923-2548.

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