How To Decide Whether To Go To A Psychiatrist Or A Psychologist

Psychiatrist Or Psychologist

How To Decide Whether To Go To A Psychiatrist Or A Psychologist

Go To A Psychiatrist or a Psychologist? 


The decision to see a professional about your mental health is not always an easy step to take and could take anywhere from days to months to reach this very decision. And this is just the first of many steps to follow. The next question that arises is what kind of mental health professional should you see?

If you’re like most people who are seeking help for their mental health for the first time, you might be faced with two broad choices – should you see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?

While both types of professionals help their clients to optimize their mental health and well-being, there are definite differences in their treatment approaches. To aid you in your search, we’ll look at the key differences between these two professionals for mental health treatment. As to the question of which treatment approach is more suitable for you, the answer depends on your nature of mental health challenges, symptoms, and goals. 

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Before we move forward, it should be noted that many psychologists and psychiatrists work closely together. There are 3 distinct differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist that come down to – training, treatments provided, and conditions treated. 


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed MBBS and holds a Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) in Psychiatry. A counseling psychologist has at least a Master in Psychology whereas a clinical psychologist has at least an M.Phil. in Clinical Psychology/ Rehabilitation. Some psychologists may also hold a Ph.D. degree. Clinical psychologists have specialized training in the diagnosis and treating severe mental health disorders. 

Treatments Provided:
Psychiatrists can provide their clients with a wide range of treatments that include – psychiatric medication, general medical care, and sometimes, psychotherapy (if they are trained in it). Psychologists on the other hand focus majorly on providing different types of therapy. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists cannot prescribe medication. 

Conditions treated:
Psychiatrists tend to usually treat people with complex mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and severe depression. Individuals who have previously attempted suicide or have active suicidal thoughts are also recommended to visit a psychiatrist. Psychologists more often see clients with conditions such as learning difficulties, anxiety, depression, or behavioral problems that can benefit from psychotherapy. 

When should you see a psychiatrist?
In some cases, even though psychotherapy is often able to get to the root of the problem, the individual may still need some additional help to manage the hormonal changes. Psychiatrists can help determine if medication is required to better manage an individual’s symptoms. Psychiatrists can also recommend hospitalization in extreme cases. 

When should you see a psychologist?
Psychologists usually work with their clients using counseling or psychotherapy skills. They are trained to address the nuances of mental health through assessment and psychotherapy. Owing to their training, they can effectively help you navigate through your concerns and collaboratively determine the best course of action to be taken. If you wish to talk to a professional about a life stressor or relationship-focused issue and work through it in a one-on-one session, a psychologist would probably be the best fit for you.

How do you choose a mental health professional that is suitable for you?
If you feel unsure about whether you should go to a psychiatrist or psychologist, you can reach out to one of our AtEase Experts who will support you through this process. Depending on your concern and the type of treatment approach you might need, our AtEase expert may ask you to see either a psychologist or a psychiatrist or sometimes, both. 


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