The normal misconception is that a psychologist and a psychiatrist are the same and that they are interchangeable. You’ll even hear this in conversations between people as the two professions are often confused with one another. And while they do examine the same things – the brain, emotions, thoughts, and feelings – and they both have the same goal – to make their patients feel better – there is a clear difference in the two fields of study.
People wonder who they should be seeing and also wonder what the differences are between the two.
Everything from the amount of training they’ve had to the length of their education and type of education to what they treat and how they practice to how much money they make can determine whether a doctor is a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Here are some of the more notable differences between psychologists and psychiatrists:
- Both psychologists and psychiatrists in New York City are Doctors but someone practicing psychology has earned a doctorate degree – either a PhD or a PsyD. Someone practicing psychiatry attended medical school and is a medical doctor.
- Psychiatrists are the only ones who can prescribe medication. And even though there have been strides made in regards to psychologists also having the ability to prescribe medicine, only a couple of states allow it. New York is not one of them.
- Psychiatrists in New York City are considered physicians who can assess, diagnose, treat and work to prevent mental illness. Psychologists administer tests, conduct psychotherapy and research. They also will listen to you without bias and help you.
- Often times, the two will work together to treat the same patients. If you see a therapist (psychologist) and they can’t prescribe medication, they’ll refer you to a psychiatrist who can. Or if you are seeing a psychiatrist, they may recommend a therapist. For example, Dr. Wendy Wolfson is a psychiatrist in New York who prescribes medications. There are other psychiatrists who can help you, whether in New York or elsewhere.
- Visiting times vary with each as well. A psychologist usually sees their patients for longer intervals (45-60 minutes) whereas a psychiatrist usually has brief visits with their patients (10-15 minutes).
- A psychiatrist is concerned with the patient’s well-being, but their focus is primarily toward actual disorders and seeing if the medications they’ve prescribed are having a positive or negative effect on the patient. A psychologist’s primary focus is on the patients thoughts, feelings and their overall general mental health and this is why the visiting times vary.
- When you see a psychologist it’s possible to talk for the entire 45-60 minutes while they merely take notes for their files. Other times they will help you to come up with strategies to cope with what’s troubling you. And don’t worry about having to lie down on a couch, that usually just happens in movies.
Finding either a psychologist or psychiatrist in New York City may seem like a daunting task – there are many to choose from – but there are also many people who utilize their services. Perhaps, you may know someone who can recommend someone. Obviously, you would need to check on insurance and whether these types of visits are covered but if they are and you feel like you need to see someone, please do not hesitate.
Faith Stewart writes for a variety of business, personal and technology sites.