What is the difference between a Registered Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Registered psychologists and psychiatrists often work together in similar settings and see people with similar problems – anxiety and depression for example. They commonly cooperate in providing treatment to people who may need a range of different treatments. The training of psychiatrists and psychologists is usually quite different, however.
A registered psychologist receives 10 to 12 years of university and clinic training focused on understanding human behaviour and psychological assessment and treatment of a wide range of problems. The training focuses on structured assessment methods and approaches to treatment that involve problem solving and learning. Much of the training of psychologists goes on in community programs and clinics. There is a strong emphasis on research and understanding the scientific method. If a client of a psychologist requires medication or some other form of medical assessment or treatment, the psychologist may arrange to consult with the client’s family doctor or with an appropriate medical specialist (including a psychiatrist when appropriate).
A psychiatrist has at least two or three years of general university training (often emphasizing science courses) and then goes on to complete a four year medical degree (M.D.). Following this there are four years of training in psychiatry as a medical specialty. Much of the training of psychiatrists goes on in hospitals with a good deal of experience in inpatient psychiatric units including the treatment of those with severe impairment. The training includes a strong emphasis on medication treatments for a wide variety of mental health problems. There is also training in psychological treatments with the types of treatments emphasized varying from program to program. If a psychiatrist sees a patient who requires assessment or treatment by a psychologist, the psychiatrist may arrange to consult with a psychologist who provides that service.