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Clinical Differences Between Psychologist and Psychiatrist

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NicotinePoop

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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?
 

foreverbull

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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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PsyDr

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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.

Psychologist

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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Jenghiz_Khaan

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch. A psychiatrist can do everything a psychologist can do, and more. Although PhD psychologists might go more in-depth into psychometric testing and such, there's nothing legally preventing psychiatrists from doing the same things they do. The reverse however is not true. As such, the MD is in a position of power.
 
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Mindfulpsych22

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch. A psychiatrist can do everything a psychologist can do, and more. Although PhD psychologists might go more in-depth into psychometric testing and such, there's nothing legally preventing psychiatrists from doing the same things they do. The reverse however is not true. As such, the MD is in a position of power.
what? Many psychologists treat Autism and schizophrenia...........
 
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parametric

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Psychologists can absolutely treat autism and schizophrenia. 🤨

signed, a psychologist who works with people with serious mental illness, schizophrenia included.

edit: *looks at poster’s history* oh THIS guy...
 
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Sanman

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch. A psychiatrist can do everything a psychologist can do, and more. Although PhD psychologists might go more in-depth into psychometric testing and such, there's nothing legally preventing psychiatrists from doing the same things they do. The reverse however is not true. As such, the MD is in a position of power.
Yup, right until they meet a hospital administrator....or a courtroom with their neuropsych eval...powerful.
 
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dcpsychdoc

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch. A psychiatrist can do everything a psychologist can do, and more. Although PhD psychologists might go more in-depth into psychometric testing and such, there's nothing legally preventing psychiatrists from doing the same things they do. The reverse however is not true. As such, the MD is in a position of power.

Oh. Oh, dear.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch. A psychiatrist can do everything a psychologist can do, and more. Although PhD psychologists might go more in-depth into psychometric testing and such, there's nothing legally preventing psychiatrists from doing the same things they do. The reverse however is not true. As such, the MD is in a position of power.
I welcome this attitude in a medicolegal setting....bc people with this attitude can get embarrassed in court. Not everyone, but that level of arrogance tends to go with having bad outcomes.
 
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psych.meout

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I'd actually counter your points and say that psychiatrists are able to treat mental illnesses that psychologists cannot. As they can prescribe medication, this means they can treat the more serious disorders (schizophrenia, autism, catatonia) that a psychologist won't touch.
BRB, gotta go get me DeLorean up to 88 MPH to stop myself from working with all those patients with SMI and ASD.


Psychologists can absolutely treat autism and schizophrenia. 🤨

signed, a psychologist who works with people with serious mental illness, schizophrenia included.

edit: *looks at poster’s history* oh THIS guy...
Lol. It's that guy:
Frivolous as it may seem this man is speaking the truth. Psychologists may eventually get nearly all the powers of a psychiatrist, but the job opportunity and stability will never compare.

Plus there's always the post-doctoral humiliation of being a humanities PhD versus a medical practitioner.
 
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