Psychiatry vs Psychology: What is The Difference?

When the job descriptions of two similar professions overlap, it can be hard to differentiate one profession from the other. A powerful example of this is the comparison between psychiatry and psychology. While most people are aware that both psychiatrists and psychologists treat people with mental health issues, many individuals struggle to differentiate the two. To do this, we should explore the fundamentals of these disciplines and comprehend the important aspects making them different. When comparing psychology and psychiatry, one obvious difference is psychiatrists are licensed doctors, while psychologists lack this designation. There are other differences, but the following definitions must be reviewed before delving into them.

What is Psychiatry?

In medical terms, psychiatry is a field of study which focuses on understanding and treating mental health problems. Psychiatry originated in the 1800s when Johann Christian Reil, a doctor from Germany, began studying how medicine could be used to treat mental health problems. Individuals specializing in this field are called psychiatrists. To become a psychiatrist, an individual needs to earn a medical degree, which can include a Doctor of Osteopathy degree, and complete licensure requirements. Currently, demand is high for addiction and forensic psychiatrists. Psychiatrists typically earn anywhere from $125,000-200,000 annually. Psychiatry salaries are affected by experience and education.

What is Psychology?

Psychologists specialize in human behavior. In other words, psychologists attempt to understand how the brain functions neurologically and physiologically and how these functions affect behavior. The word psychology was first phrased by Rudolp Gockel, a German philosopher during the 1500s. Individuals specializing in this field are called psychologists. There are numerous branches of psychology. To work as a psychologist, an individual must earn a psychology degree. Holding a master’s degree in this field will qualify you for many psychology jobs. Some psychologists holding master’s degrees specialize in forensic, industrial, and clinical psychology.

Psychiatry vs Psychology

After reviewing these definitions, you have a better idea of what makes these fields different, beginning with the names. Both terms begin with psyche, literally meaning “related to mind,” while the suffix logy refers to science and iatry to treatment. In other words, psychiatrists treat mental health illnesses, and psychologists conduct research to learn more about cognition and human behavior. Although psychologists and psychiatrists administer counseling and psychotherapy, psychiatrists are permitted to prescribe drugs. Additionally, psychiatrists and psychologists conduct differing research. Psychiatrists typically focus on concepts related to psychiatric medication, while psychologists usually focus on concepts related to research and clinical psychology.

Psychiatry and psychology share similarities, but there are also differences existing between these disciplines, the major one being that psychiatrists can prescribe medication. However, a few jurisdictions are now permitting psychologists to prescribe drugs after notifying a psychiatrist. Because these developments are occurring, fewer differences will exist between these disciplines in the near future.