The difference between psychologists and psychiatrists

You’ve figured out that you need some support and help, but what comes next? I mean, obviously you’ll just go and see a psychologist… or is it a psychiatrist? They both help people so aren’t they the same thing?

You’re already going through enough, so the last thing you need is extra confusion and stress around finding the right help for you.

I want to help make the difference clearer for you so that you can take the next steps more confidently.


First, let’s talk about the similarities between these professions.

Psychologists and psychiatrists both work to improve the mental health and overall well-being of individuals. In fact, they often work in collaboration to ensure you have more sources of support. They focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues and often work with a wide variety of issues.

Although both do work with a variety of issues, they may also be more experienced or comfortable in working with certain issues. So it’s always a good idea to ask whether they can help with your specific goals. This is why we specifically ask psychologists about their areas of expertise when finding you a great match!


The differences between these two professions come down to their education and training, and what specific services they can provide to help improve your mental health and well-being.

Psychologists need to complete a 4 year undergraduate course, followed by a minimum of 2 years of further training. After this, there is ongoing training and supervision to ensure they continually learn and refine their skills. Psychologists can’t provide medication and have to refer their clients to a GP or psychiatrist if they think medication would help. Importantly, psychologists can help you by using therapies that have been thoroughly researched to make sure that they’re effective. These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and many more.

Psychiatrists complete both medical and mental health training, which can take at least 13 years. In other words, psychiatrists are doctors who specialise in treating mental illnesses. This is good because physical and mental illnesses are often linked, and the combined training means psychiatrists can focus on both of these together. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can give you medication, which is often helpful for mental health issues.

Finding a good psychologist

The more support you have, the better the outcomes. So, even if a psychiatrist is better suited to your needs, also seeing a psychologist will help you further. They both have the same end goal, improved mental health and well-being.

I hope this clarifies the similarities and differences between psychologists and psychiatrists. If you think a psychologist could be useful for you, we’ll help you find the right one. Click here to use our free matching service and take the next steps towards your well-being.

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