Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist

Deciding to reach out to a mental health professional is a brave and positive first step when seeking treatment for a mental health disorder. However, it can get confusing – psychiatrist vs. psychologist? Here’s why it’s beneficial to understand both to ensure you receive the right diagnosis and treatment.


A psychologist’s expertise lies primarily in providing psychosocial therapy, using behavioral interventions and therapeutic methods to address the patient’s emotional and mental problems. They look closely at the patient’s thoughts, family history, emotions, and sleeping and eating patterns to trace the root of their troubles.

Psychologists are not required to attend medical school nor are they medical doctors. To become licensed, psychologists first obtain a master’s degree, then go on to earn their doctorate, giving them the title of either Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Psychology. Once their formal school is complete, psychologists embark on a professional internship during which they are immersed in areas like behavioral and psychological therapy, analytical testing, and methods of treatment. Once their internship is complete, they will go on to do practical work to become a licensed psychologist.


Psychiatrists graduate from medical school, which is why they carry the title of MD – medical doctor. Their studies there are devoted to the human body and its functions; this provides a broad knowledge of the workings of – and chemical imbalances in – the brain, which is central in the field of psychiatry. Furthermore, as medical doctors, psychiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat many medical conditions.

After medical school, they go on to apply their knowledge of general and psychiatric medicine under expert supervision during a four-year residency where they diagnose and treat different kinds of psychological disorders. Some also train in specialty areas, such as pediatric or adolescent psychiatry, or working with specific populations, such as veterans, those with addictions, or the elderly; still others choose to specialize in additional medical fields, such as neurology.

Treatment and Practice

In treating patients, both psychiatrists and psychologists can administer psychotherapy, which involves talking about the issues affecting the patient’s mental health. However, only a psychiatrist is permitted to make medical diagnoses and provide medical treatment, which may include prescribing medication and ensuring the dosages are correct and effective. Some of the many disorders a psychiatrist can diagnosis are depression, anxiety, neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and those found on the autism spectrum, and trauma- and stress-related disorders.

Benefits of a Psychiatrist

Choosing which mental health professional to work with really depends on getting the correct diagnosis. While one might seek psychotherapy with a psychologist or therapist to deal with the ups and downs and pressures of life, only a psychiatrist can provide a medical diagnose for a psychiatric disorder. Your malaise or anger may be the result of a mood disorder or related to a chronic condition. Working with a psychiatrist in tandem with your primary care provider can help you get to the root of your condition to get the proper medical treatment you deserve. Your psychiatrist may also refer you to a psychologist for psychotherapy.

Comprehensive Psychiatric Care in Connecticut

Both a psychiatrist and psychologist will work with you for mental health care. But only a psychiatrist can properly diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan that includes both talk and behavior modification therapies, as well as medication when warranted.

In the greater Danbury area, Dr. Mark Stracks is renowned for his calm and comforting demeanor. A fully licensed board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Stracks focuses on helping adolescents and adults of all ages on a case-by-case basis, treating a range of disorders that includes neurological conditions, head injury, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, depression and schizophrenia, and those with substance abuse and addiction disorders. Dr. Stracks looks forward to working with you at his Danbury practice, Psy-Visions, where he ensures the highest possible caliber of care for clients. To request an appointment call at Sr. Stracks today at (203) 405-1745, or fill out our online form.

Have a Question?