Psychiatrist VS Psychologist – Does Counseling Really Work?


The terms’ psychiatrist’ and ‘psychologist’ are used in a similar context, and they are both trained to treat and diagnose people with mental health issues. Yet they are not the same. It is common to get both mixed since they both understand the functions of brain, neurotransmissions, feelings, emotions, and thoughts and can treat mental illnesses with psychotherapy. A medication management psychiatrist will be looking after your prescribed medication or whether you need any at all, whereas a psychologist will be walking you through your issues to provide holistic treatment.

There are some fundamental differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist which are relatively based on these factors:


  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors with over a decade of training, consisting of a medical degree and at least a couple of years of training as a general doctor.
  • Psychologists have six years of university training and training under supervision. They may have a doctorate that qualifies them with the title of ‘doctor’, but they are not medical doctors. Specialization in the field of clinical psychology enables them to diagnose and treat mental illness.

Types of treatment provided

Psychiatrists can provide a range of treatments according to the problem and which suits their patient the best. These include:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • General medical care
  • Brain stimulation therapies

Psychologists are trained to provide a variety of treatments that fall under various categories, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychoanalysis

Mental health conditions

Psychiatrists can provide a holistic treatment where a patient may require services of a medication management psychiatrist, psychotherapy and social needs considered. Such people have severe mental health problems, such as:

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Psychologists have a higher likelihood of helping people with conditions that can be solved with psychotherapy solely. These may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Phobias
  • Learning difficulties
  • Relationship problems

Will getting counseling help?

You may be skeptical about getting counseling for what you may consider to be minor issues, but many of us could use a healing ear where we are understood and guided. We then tend to take proper steps and ensure our sanity. Success is subjective, which is why it isn’t easy to measure your progress in a counseling session. But there are ways to assess the fruits of counseling. These signals shout that counseling is really working.

  • Your symptoms seem to be under control.
  • You function better in your daily life, personal and professional.
  • You can self-assess by ranking your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10; or by counting the number of panic attacks in a week.
  • You understand your emotional state a lot better.

The progress is not always linear, and there may be some bad days mixed in with the good. By keeping your goal in mind and consistently seeking help will surely improve your quality of life whether you are seeing a medication management psychiatrist or a psychologist.    

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