What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist?

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Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists often work in tandem to treat their patient's symptoms from both a behavioural and clinical standpoint. They share a common goal - the desire to help people feel better. The fields of psychology and psychiatry are both essential in offering treatment for improving mental and emotional health.

After seeing a family doctor for a referral, a patient might meet regularly with a clinical psychologist to address behavioural patterns. That clinical psychologist may refer the patient to a psychiatrist who is able to prescribe and monitor medication.

Because clinical psychologists and psychiatrists often work together for the well-being of the client, their job descriptions may overlap somewhat. While they both work in the mental health field, they perform very different roles (particularly in the type of treatment they administer). Each profession also requires different educational paths.

The Role Of A Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists conduct psychological tests, focus primarily on psychotherapy, and often treat both emotional and mental suffering with behavioural intervention (behavioural intervention involves having patients replace problematic behaviours with more positive ones).

Clinical psychologists tailor their treatment plans to each individual patient, as different people have different problems, and respond best to different forms of therapy. Even two people with the same problem may respond very differently to treatment and recovery plans. Clinical psychologists do not typically prescribe medication.

In terms of education, a clinical psychologist must complete four years of university, a two-year master's degree, and a further two years of supervised clinical training. Graduate school provides aspiring clinical psychologists with extensive preparation for a career in psychology by teaching students how to diagnose mental and emotional disorders in a variety of situations.

Throughout their years of education, students study personality development, the history of psychological problems, and the science of psychological research.

The Role Of A Psychiatrist
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are dedicated to providing the best treatment and care for people with mental disorders.

Because psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, they are able to prescribe medications. They spend a significant portion of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment. Medication in psychiatry is used when counseling and therapy fail to produce noticeable results.

As doctors, psychiatrists understand the ins and outs of the body as well as the mind. Their training - four years of medical school followed by four years of psychiatric residency - allows them to diagnose basic and complex psychiatric conditions which include: psychosis; affective disorders; anxiety disorders; and behavioural disorders.

They are also able to deliver psychotherapy, and to administer somatic therapies. Some psychiatrists specialize in liaison psychiatry, childhood and adolescent psychiatry, or forensic psychiatry.

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