Both professions are not the same, but they share some of the same duties and specializations. However, there are huge differences between psychology and psychiatry. And even more so when people seek professional help. Often, they may find that the difference between these two branches of mental health is key to getting the help they need. And often, people find that they can benefit from the psychotherapy and other treatments that psychiatrists offer.
In general, when you enroll in graduate school for either psychology or psychiatry, you complete a rigorous curriculum centered on the field of psychology. Along with this education, you will study clinical psychology, human behavior, psychology, sociology, and Counseling. Your coursework also will include educational research and writing as well as supervised clinical experience. It can take several years for you to complete your doctoral degree. But you don’t have to give up on your dreams of becoming a mental health professional. Many graduates find employment immediately after graduation.
A psychologist is a mental health professional who focuses on disorders, mental health, and the causes of behavioral problems. Psychologists examine and diagnose psychological issues through a series of psychological tests and interviews. The most common test a psychologist uses to diagnose a disorder is the Structured Clinical Interview for Mental Disorders (SCID). However, different psychological disorders have slightly different procedures for diagnosis. In graduate school, you will learn all about the different disorders and the methods used by psychologists to diagnosis them.
Because many psychiatrists work closely with mental health professionals such as psychologists, you may wonder how much interaction you will have with medical doctors during your career. Although you will have contact with many medical doctors throughout your career, the majority of your time will be spent working with your faculty supervisors and in administrative positions. A typical day at a clinical or counseling facility could include a variety of tasks. Your clinical supervisor may assign you to one or multiple cases depending on the needs of the facility and the needs of your assigned case.
Psychologists also work closely with psychiatrists in the treatment of their patients. Most psychiatrists will prescribe medications for their depressed or anxious patients. Your responsibilities include monitoring the progress of your patient and documenting all symptoms and progress. You will be the one to recommend alternative medications that your doctor has prescribed in the past. If your doctor determines that your patient needs medications other than those prescribed by your psychiatrist, you will be responsible for filling out all of the necessary paperwork and ensuring that your patient receives the appropriate medication.
A psychologist is not only a medical health professional, but a therapist as well. You will be required to help your client meet his or her treatment goals. You will be an active part in therapy and counseling sessions. In these sessions you will be asked to help the client identify his or her problems, plan ways to solve them, deal with setbacks, and learn new skills and behaviors. Your role as a therapist includes working with the patient to develop new interests, coping mechanisms, and positive relationships.
Most psychologists perform private counseling either in person or on a computer. A few specialize in group counseling and work with a limited number of clients. Most psychologists and other mental health professionals work on a contingency basis, which means that they receive no money for their services until they have fully completed their required work. Some counselors offer payment options and work with insurance plans to cover the cost of their services.
Psychology graduates are considered entry-level professionals. Many psychiatrists want to become psychologists or work in related fields such as medical doctors. Many psychiatrists also choose to become teachers or administrators. A career as a psychiatrist is an exciting and challenging career that will provide you with a wide variety of opportunities to serve people. If you are considering a career as a psychologist or someone who deals with mental health disorders, you should consult with a psychological counselor at a local medical school.