When you seek help to understand and resolve your emotional, psychological and mental health challenges, your search will open you up to two types of specialists: Psychologist – Psychiatrist.
You will also find the term Psychotherapist.
In this article I would discuss the terms based on my understanding and certain definitions from NHS UK, American Psychiatric Association.
Though both psychologists and psychiatrists seek to understand how the mind and brain processes thoughts, emotions, and feelings their approach is different.
They both have different types of credentials, different types of training to deal with challenges, and to an extent deal with different types of challenges.
Psychologists offer psychological counselling. Though it is considered as talk therapy, it is not ‘talking’. Psychological Counselling is also not advice giving.
Psychological counselling helps you reflect on your thoughts, emotions, feelings, experiences, and challenges within a specific framework; help build on the reflections which will help you cope and overcome life issues and certain mild to moderate mental health challenges.
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A Psychotherapist is not a medical doctor. He is not authorized to prescribe medications. Psychotherapist is a psychologist who could be specialized in one or many forms of psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. At the same time psychotherapy is not talking. It is an interaction with a framework that can facilitate reflection, reexperiencing memories, release of emotional entanglements and blocks.
Psychotherapy can be offered in a large group setting, family group setting, couples and also one-on-one sessions.
Psychotherapists are psychologists who get trained in specialized psychological processes, like Psychoanalytic therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Transactional Analysis, Art and Play Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, etc.
Psychologists, Psychiatrists get trained in one or few of the therapeutic techniques. It is not possible for everyone to get trained in all forms of therapeutic techniques. At the same time there are a number of people who do not have a psychiatric or psychological problem, but still have taken in-depth training in certain specialized psychotherapeutic methods.
Psychotherapy can help people overcome stress, anxiety, compulsive habits, emotional and relationship problems. Relationship problems can include couple relationships, relationship with children, and other relationship challenges.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor.
Psychiatrist offer a wider range of treatment that can include psychiatric medications, brain stimulation therapies. Psychiatrist can also offer methods like ECT etc.
Psychiatrists work with complex medical conditions and disorders termed as Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorders, Severe Depression, etc.
Psychiatrists, after completing thorough evaluations, psychiatrists can prescribe medications to help treat mental disorders. While the precise mechanism of action of psychiatric medications is not fully understood, they may beneficially modulate chemical signaling and communication within the brain, which may reduce some symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Patients on long-term medication treatment will need to meet with their psychiatrist periodically to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and any potential side effects.
Reference - American Psychiatric Association
In general, Psychiatrists deal with mild to severe forms of psychological challenges. They can prescribe medications.
In many hospitals psychiatrists work with a team of psychotherapists and psychologists
Some Psychiatrists also get trained in specialized psychotherapy tools and psychological counselling.