May 1, 2020
As the title states, I'm wondering about any differences there might be between psychiatrists and psychologists as it relates to their respective capacities for clinical work. Are there types of mental illnesses that a psychologist can treat that a psychiatrist can't? I know that psychiatrists receive clinical training during their residency, but I also heard they can't treat certain mental illnesses like phobias for example because their clinical psychotherapy training isn't as extensive as a psychologist's is. Besides the ability to prescribe medication which I know a psychiatrist can do, are there any differences in the types of clinical work a psychiatrist and a psychologist can do?


5+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2015
Have you seen this thread?

Short answer: if psychiatrists have the specific training, they could treat pretty much any disorder; same for psychologists, although psychologists are getting more training in psychotherapy across the board. As discussed at length in the prior thread, psychotherapy training is highly variable for psychiatrists (far less so for psychologists). I don't see why a psychiatrist with solid behavior therapy training couldn't treat phobias, although certainly it might be less likely for them to have this training in residency and they may have to seek it out themselves.

EDIT: Psychologists can provide psychological assessment (if they've had enough assessment training), which could be considered an aspect of clinical work, whereas psychiatrists can't.
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Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
Pragmatically, insurance pays more for medication management. So psychiatrists tend to do that.

Overall, there’s a lot more flexibility for psychiatrists. Lot more options for how to practice (eg, order that MRI all day long). There’s increased prestige, and an assumption that can, in some cases, provoke the classic mistake of “better at X, therefore better at Y”.

There's a bunch of other things psychiatrists can do with additional fellowships that psychologists will never do, including: performing sleep studies, prescribing for pain conditions, etc. Psychiatrists can also employ PAs and NPs as extenders and get paid for that stuff.


Pragmatically limited time payment for psychotherapy and testing. With additional training psychologists can prescribe, and do neuropsych. In a few specialities, psychologists can use Psychometricians as extenders. Neuropsych and testing pays more, so people tend to like that.

Psychologists will almost always have more education in psychotherapy.
Psychologists will always have more education in testing. Which becomes awesome in situations where an interview is much less desired over objective data (eg, forensics, educational assessments, etc).
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