Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist – What’s the Difference?

Today’s fast-paced world can be hard to keep up with, regardless of whether you are a professional or a student, or whether you’re married or single. The increased amount of stress of living today can affect a person’s mental health, which could compound pre-existing mental health disorders.

As such, taking care of your mental health is important, and you should seek professional help if any concerns should arise. There are two types of specialists trained in diagnosing and treating these types of problems and disorders: the psychologist and the psychiatrist.

Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together in a psychology center to improve patient’s well-being and have many similarities between their fields, and these fields can even overlap at times. However, there are also many crucial differences between them, one of the biggest being the nature of their treatment and their areas of specialization.

Education and Treatment
The biggest difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist in Singapore, and this applies across the world, is their educational background.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has had at least one year of medical internship, and has completed the minimum required years of residency when it comes to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders.

A psychiatrist’s treatment is more technical in nature, as the evaluation of the patient’s mental condition usually includes the prescription of medicines, such as antidepressants, in order to treat diagnosed chemical imbalances in the patient’s brain.

Meanwhile, a recommended child psychologist in Singapore has a doctorate in the field of psychology, which is the study of the human mind and human behavior. Unlike a psychiatrist, a recommended psychologist is trained more towards giving different psychological tests, from IQ to personality tests.

Marriage counselling is typically the domain of a psychologist, although if the source of the tension is some mental disorder in one party, a psychiatrist will have to be involved. The best psychologist is one who also has a background on psychiatry.

The key difference to note here is that while both psychologists and psychiatrists specialize in the mental well-being of a patient, the latter is the one that gives medications to treat mental illness, while the former treats a client with regular counseling.

Whom Should You Consult?
While it can be difficult to choose, one thing to take note is that symptoms of severe mental illness that can evidently affect a person’s motor skills and functionality should warrant a consultation with a psychiatrist. Typically, for clients looking for marriage counselling, the services of psychologist should be sought, not that of a psychiatrist.

Neurochemical imbalances in an individual’s brain can either be genetic or caused by other factors, which cannot be fixed only by changes in behavioral patterns. These serious mental conditions require medication that can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

In situations where a person’s mental health is not clearly compromised enough that an individual is still physically able to do their daily tasks, a psychologist is probably the better choice. This is because there is a likely chance that a person’s problem is behavioral in nature and may only need regular counseling to correct, not drugs. For children with behavioural problem, a child psychologist is the best professional to consult.

More on Psychologists and Counseling
Psychologists focus on psychological treatment. They study how a person thinks and behaves, as well as why a person would think or act a person thinks and acts. They examine the causes of said thought processes and behaviors as well as the different environmental factors that can influence how these behaviors can manifest.

Psychologists are more inclined to see people that can be effectively helped with this kind of treatment. Your psychologist, then, is the best person capable of handling problems in your or your partner’s behavior and how certain behavioral instances can be corrected.

When it comes to disputes that have already affected the relationship between married couples to a significant degree, relationship counselling is usually the best recourse that the couple can take in order to resolve both past and current grievances that they wish to address.

Relationship Counselling: What it is and What to Expect
In Singapore, relationship counselling, also called couples therapy, may not be an experience that you look forward to. The idea of therapy itself can be terrifying to you and be even more terrifying when you’re doing it with another person.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Going to psychology center and undergoing relationship counselling is in many ways beneficial to you and your partner, with the initial dread dispelled once you go through the ordeal. In some instances, couples even leave the therapy sessions with a renewed intimacy and a better willingness to be more open and understanding towards their partner. In some cases where there has been prolonged emotional tension, and even some psychological abuse, it may also be necessary to send the couple’s children to a child psychologist.

To start, you don’t need a referral to be able to schedule an appointment, nor should you bring anything. The first session is where the ground rules and boundaries are usually set, where you and your partner can talk with the therapist about confidentiality, as well as other policies, be it on the methodologies used or on cancelling appointments.

Once all this is covered, the psychologist will generally take a brief history from you and your partner that covers the issues and problems that led you to counseling. For instance, these questions could sound like:

• What issues have you experienced/are you experiencing in your relationship?
• When (and how) did these issues start becoming a problem?
• What steps have you and your partner taken to resolve these issues?
• What are your expectations about marriage counselling?

Sessions are typically conducted as a combination of different tasks, from setting you and your partner up to feel comfortable, to developing trust with the psychologist. Professional and ethical counselors or psychologists will take steps to make sure that any sensitive issues that may be difficult to discuss can be done so safely and comfortably.