Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: What Is The Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist

Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist

Disclaimer: Please note that all statements published on this article are solely opinions of the writer. The information in this article is not a substitute for professional advice. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained here with other sources, and review all information with a professional. Please do not disregard professional advice because of something you have read here. The Happy Hormones will not responsible and liable for any damage caused through information obtained here. There are some links found on www.happyhormones.my, known as affiliate links. Through use of these links, we receive a small commission from sales of products. This does not affect the price that you will pay for the product (i.e. the price is the same whether you use our link or not). These fees help us to fund the content that you read on The Happy Hormones.

The stigma of mental health issues in Malaysia has reduced in the past years. However, we believe that more people are suffering while bottling up their emotions, as there’s still a taboo on mental health. Recent statistics with 336 suicide case in the first quarter of 2021 has left Malaysians on needle and pins.

It shows that seeking help is crucial, and you heal from within when you take therapies. But seeking the right treatment can be pretty daunting and confusing, especially if you don’t exactly know what is wrong.

With various professions such as counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists or psychotherapists, you may not be clear on what each of them offers.

If you have decided to cure your invisible wound (the team at The Happy Hormones are so proud of you) and are unsure of consulting either a psychiatrist or psychologist, hop on this ride!

Key Difference #1. Education: Psychiatrists own a degree in the medical field while Psychologists own a degree in the psychology field.

Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist
Source: quora.com

In terms of education, the main difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist would be the field of study.


Psychiatrists are registered medical doctors whose career starts with a Degree in medicine. After completing their housemanship, Masters in Psychiatry awaits them to be qualified psychiatrists.

Besides, psychiatry refers to a branch of medicine that points up the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders.


In Malaysia, psychologists have a Degree in Psychology followed by either a Masters or Doctorate(PhD) in psychology fields like Health Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience and more. That sums up that they are not medical doctors.

The scientific study of mind and behaviour is known as psychology.

Key Difference #2. Practice: Psychiatrists are limited to careers in the medical field while Psychologists have a wider career opportunity.

Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist
Source: leverageedu.com

Although both psychiatrists and psychologists can be found in the same settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation programs, private practices, prisons, university medical centres, to name a few, the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that psychiatrists have more limitations compared to psychologists.


Psychiatrists, who are also known as medical practitioners’ careers, evolve around the medical field.


Psychologists have a bounty of career opportunities in many different fields, depending on their specialisation. For instance, 

  • an industrial and organisational psychology’s job is to analyse the behaviour of employees and come up with solutions to improve the well-being of them
  • a clinical psychologist works with a patient who has severe mental health issues
  • a forensic psychologist comprehends the different features of a case in the legal and criminal justice system
  • a sports psychologist helps athletes with their performances
  • a consumer psychologist usually develops marketing strategies to promote businesses, etc.

Key Difference #3. Treatment: Psychiatrists could prescribe medications for treatment while Psychologists solely focuses on therapy.

Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist
Source: mindler.com


Since psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can prescribe medications. As the course of treatment, psychiatrists come up with a plan that focuses on medicines to manage mild to severe symptoms.

Severe depression, bipolar disorder, chronic anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are a few mental health conditions that need prescriptions as a part of the recovery journey. 


Talk therapy is the first approach of a psychologist to treat their patients. Psychological tests, observations and tests to understand the patients better are what a psychologist is an expert in. They spend time talking to patients to manage stressful events, illnesses, anxiety and more.

Some of the therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychoanalytic therapy, humanistic therapy, and so on.

Besides one-to-one therapy sessions, psychologists are the best individuals for couple and family problems too.

Should I visit a psychiatrist or psychologist?

Most of the time, a psychiatrist or psychologist works hand in hand.

For instance, in a scenario whereby a patient is going through depression or attempted suicide, they will be given anti-depressant medications prescribed by a psychiatrist. Once the patient is able to control their suicidal tendencies, they will be encouraged to seek a psychologist to undergo ongoing therapy sessions to learn how to manage their feelings and thoughts.

However, if you are in a dilemma and still unclear about the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, visit your general practitioner or pay a visit to the clinic as they can sort it out for you. Seeking the right person is crucial to get the perfect diagnosis and treatment for a better life or well-being.


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment