Friday, July 12, 2024

What’s the Difference Between a Therapist and a Psychiatrist?

Seeking treatment for mental illness can significantly improve your overall well-being. The results largely depend on getting the right mental healthcare provider. When looking for the right provider, patients may experience difficulties choosing between therapy and psychiatry to best serve their needs.

Therapists and psychiatrists often share numerous similarities in the roles they perform, but their services are inherently different. Therapy can help you overcome personal concerns and challenges, while psychiatry can help you overcome more intense cognitive struggles such as genetic predispositions. Here are the differences between a therapist and a psychiatrist.


A psychiatrist specializes in treating serious mental health issues often relating to disorders like disability and substance abuse. They use their knowledge to assess both physical and mental aspects of a patient’s psychological need. Psychiatrists often treat such problems to prevent other disorders like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

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Therapists, on the other hand, specialize in offering support for mental health issues. When you go in for therapy, the expert will help you find the strength to confront your fears and emotions. The therapy process often involves unpacking emotions and feelings to help with real-life problems.


Psychiatrists in the US have to first study general medicine in med school for four years. They then specialize in psychiatry over their four-year residency program. Psychiatrists need a general medicine degree to offer counseling and psychological testing, among other duties.

During residency training, the psychiatrist works with patients outside their field in the first year. The subsequent three years of the psychiatrist training focus on training about mental illness training and diagnosis. Once they complete their residency, psychiatrists in training often complete an exam with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to become certified. Each expert’s certification lasts about ten years, after which they must renew.

Therapists’ qualification process is less complex than that of psychiatrists. The law requires therapists to study mental health-related subjects like child development, psychology, neuroscience, and social work. Aspiring therapists must attain a master’s degree from an accredited university whose programs relate to their area of specialty.

Before practicing within the market, therapists must surpass the threshold of required supervised training in hours. The therapist must also apply for licensing before they can practice, but the licensure requirements differ from one state to another.

Psychiatrists and therapists have different qualifications which also apply in their practice. For example, a psychiatrist can perform psychotherapy since it is included in their training. Therapists, in most cases, do not have the authority to issue diagnoses and medication since they are not doctors.

Treatment Techniques

Because of their comprehensive medical training, psychiatrists are best suited to offer an accurate diagnosis based on the symptoms you may have. Your psychiatrist will examine your overall health to narrow down the diagnosis. They do this by ruling out physiological and biological issues that may be affecting your mental health.

For instance, they can check whether any anxiety issues result from health problems. They can also determine how your mental health problems affect your overall health. Psychiatrists can accurately diagnose the patient’s problems by addressing the relationship between physiology and mental illnesses for a comprehensive treatment plan.

Therapists offer psychotherapy and talk to patients seeking solutions for their mental health problems. Though they are not typically certified to diagnose and prescribe medication, their treatment focuses on advising you on how to overcome the issue.

Beginning Therapy

The ideal expert you choose for your mental health concerns depends on your situation. For example, therapists handle work or family difficulties and stress from different social situations. Psychiatrists treat more serious mental health problems, including depression, hallucinations, or violent behavior.

Both psychiatrists and therapists perform vital roles when catering to mental health problems. Their services help with personal matters and assist you in overcoming hurdles that can be life-changing. Begin therapy and start your mental health wellness journey today.

Deeksha Arora
Deeksha Arora
I work as a content writer with Gentle Wit blog. I love to write articles on art, nature and lifestyle niche. My hobbies are to listen podcasts and read inspirational books.

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