Psychologist or psychiatrist; which one should I choose?
If a person breaks a leg, it is not the job of a heart surgeon to treat the injury. Likewise, therapists specialize in particular fields when it comes to mental healthcare. Both psychologists and psychiatrists are familiar with the operation of the human brain, emotions, and thoughts. They are both able to help the patient solve or treat the issues relating to their mental health. However, mental health issues and diseases differ in their categories, intensity, and roots. It is common sense that different problems require different areas of expertise, and it is vital to know what specialist we need for what kind of problem.
If you also happen to get confused while choosing a suitable specialist for your issue and at one point, you find yourself overwhelmed by titles such as psychologist, psychiatrist, consultant, and psychoanalyst, don’t be hard on yourself. Because there are some slight differences between them, and of course, knowing them helps you choose the best path.
This article will help you distinguish between different fields of mental health. Then, you can visit a therapist who is most suited to your concerns.
How are psychiatrists different from psychologists?
Psychology and consulting are among the nonmedical fields. Psychologists choose to study in different majors such as clinical, child, adolescent, developmental and educational, consulting, or couple psychology. Psychology students gain knowledge about various parts of the brain and the effects of hormones on mental health as well. However, the central part of their studies includes the influence of emotional and social issues (e.g., life experiences and parenting methods) on mental health.
There are slight but noteworthy differences between psychology and consulting. Psychologists are educated in curing and making fundamental changes. While consultants usually help clients to make decisions. A consultant tries to prevent new troubles and challenges by guiding the client. In other words, consultants are experts in giving advice on personal and environmental changes when there is no psychological disorder.
On the other hand, to briefly address the difference between a psychologist and a consultant, psychologists usually tend to solve more complicated issues and treat mental disorders during several sessions. While the consultants work with clients with lower levels of complexity, and in the span of a few meetings, they consult and guide the patients.
We should mention that right now, many consultants learn about more fundamental methods of therapy by attending courses outside the university educational system, and they use these methods in the therapy room.
Psychiatry is a branch of general medicine. Psychiatrists pursue their expertise after graduating from general medicine courses. They learn about the links between different parts of the brain and the influence of endocrine and exocrine hormones on one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Therefore, they are more focused on the mutual relationship between physical and mental issues.
The world of psychology is full of schools and approaches such as psychoanalysis, schema therapy, motion-focused therapy, and reality therapy. Psychologists and therapists choose one of these approaches to solve behavioral issues, interpersonal conflicts, low self-confidence, learning problems, stress, and mild depression. Based on their approach, they use conversations with the patient to refine the emotional and behavioral patterns. Although they are in the know about the function of the brain and the effect of medications, they are not allowed to prescribe medication or biological treatments.
Psychiatrists use prescriptions or biological treatments such as Electroconvulsive therapy to treat complex circumstances which call for medical attention, with or without psychological therapy (e.g., bipolar disorder or biologically based depression or anxiety ). In fact, psychiatrists also take notice of the patient’s patterns of thinking, emotion, and behavior. Still, their primary focus is on the reciprocal link between the body and the mind.
Is it possible that one needs simultaneous help from a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
In many cases, psychiatrists and psychologists work together. A psychologist might notice a need for medical treatment besides consultative therapy. In such a case, the patient will be introduced to a psychiatrist. In the same way, a psychiatrist can conclude to send a patient to a psychologist to receive complementary psychological aid besides medical intervention. There are also some psychiatrists who pass the required courses and treat simultaneously with medications and consultation due to their interest.