Because Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists often work together for the well-being of a client, their job descriptions sometimes overlap. However there are crucial differences, the most critical being the nature of the treatment within the professions. It is important to know the difference when deciding who to see and the type of work to expect. These descriptions below are true for the UK and Canada however some countries have different definitions. It is important to set and establish expectations upfront and discuss with your provider. There are so many different ways to approach therapy and much of the success depends on the relationship between therapist and client so a good match is key.
Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors and can prescribe medications. Psychiatrists attend medical school and are trained in general medicine. After earning an MD, they practice residency training in psychiatry. Their experience typically involves working in a psychiatric unit of a hospital with a variety of patients with behaviour disorders and severe cases of mental illness. They spend much of their time on medication management as a course of treatment.
Psychologists focus on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering. They are also qualified to conduct psychological testing and diagnosing mental and emotional disorders in varying situations. Psychologists must obtain a PhD or PsyD doctoral degree.
A psychotherapist is a trained professional in psychotherapy who does not necessarily have to have a medical background. A psychotherapist assists those who are suffering with stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, negative behaviour patterns, debilitating feelings, and various other mental conditions.There are many different approaches to psychotherapy.
Ideally these 3 professions work together and refer clients to each other where necessary. The best indicator of successful therapy is the relationship between the client and therapist.
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