In the realm of mental health, psychiatry and psychology overlap. As mental health professionals, psychiatrists and therapists are experts in how the mind affects people’s well-being and behaviors. Both can work in a residential or outpatient mental health counseling center. However, there are differences between a psychiatrist vs therapist.
Understanding a Psychiatrist vs Therapist
Psychiatrists are specialists who prevent, diagnose and treat mental disorders. As medical doctors, they complete four years of medical school and an internship for one year. Then, they undergo specialized training as psychiatric residents for at least three years.
After their extensive education and training, they can differentiate underlying medical conditions from mental illnesses. They can monitor how mental problems affect people’s physical conditions, and vice versa. In addition, they hold a license to prescribe medications to treat anxiety, depression and other mental conditions. In fact, much of their treatment focuses on managing medications.
When medications aren’t enough to treat mental illnesses, psychiatrists may provide therapy or refer people to therapists. Such professionals can include psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, marriage counselors or any other professionals who provide talk therapy.
In general, therapists have at least a master’s degree, and many of them can diagnose and treat mental conditions. However, they aren’t medical doctors and can’t prescribe medications. Their goal is to help people understand their feelings and thoughts, make changes to improve themselves and develop life skills.
Types of Therapists
While the differences between a psychiatrist vs therapist are clear, the differences between the various therapists might not be. Basically, the distinction lies in their education.
Psychologists have doctoral degrees in psychology. They attend graduate school to learn how to evaluate and treat emotional and mental illnesses. Then they complete a two- or three-year internship for training in behavioral therapy, psychological theory and treatment methods.
Licensed mental health counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or a counseling-related field. They also complete at least two additional years of training to obtain a license. Like psychologists, they can evaluate and treat mental illnesses with therapy.
Clinical social workers have a master’s degree in social work. They can receive extra training to evaluate and treat mental disorders and provide case management services. Furthermore, they work as advocates for people and their family members.
How Therapists and Psychiatrists Work Together
Because of the differences between a psychiatrist vs therapist, they often work together to provide comprehensive mental health treatment. While therapists help people address the cause of their problems, psychiatrists prescribe and monitor medications to control symptoms. This combination aids the healing process.
As a result, most people with mental health conditions see their therapists on a weekly basis. However, they may only see their psychiatrists once a month. Their specific treatment plan will be a collaboration between themselves, their therapists and their psychiatrists.
Find Your Mental Health Care Team in One Place
Do you think that you need mental health treatment? Remedy Therapy can provide all of the care that you need in one place. Our outpatient counseling services Palm Beach Gardens include:
Don’t seek treatment before you fully understand the differences between a psychiatrist vs therapist. Let us teach you more about how our specialists work together to help you heal. Call 516.414.2607 to take the first step toward mental health wellness.