differences and similarities between psychology and psychiatry.

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This article deals with the distinctions and parallels between psychology and psychiatry. This suggests that the two occupations must be explained in terms of formal credentials, experience, and time commitment. You should be able to classify psychology and psychiatry as two separate careers after reading this article.

The time commitment to psychology and psychiatry varies depending on the number of years spent completing the degrees. A doctoral degree in Psychology takes between 5-6 years, while a psychiatrist takes an extra 6-7 years of residence after graduation. The two fields are similar in terms of the overlapping areas in terms of practice such as counseling. However, they vary at the same time in terms of technicalities such as drug prescription which is only allowed for psychiatrists

These differences and similarities are the ones that make people confused about the professions coupled with the lack of interest to learn and clarify.



Psychology and psychiatry are two fields that are intertwined in that they often borrow a lot of things from one another. They are both disciplines that deal with the individuals mind the distinction being largely in how they approach the matters and the professional burdens that each bears. However, both field share distinct in their own right and as such must be recognized from this perspective. At his point, it is important to note that psychology focused on counseling while psychiatry often focuses on the medical examination of mental diseases and prescribing the necessary drugs for the patients. The similarity in the fields is in terms of content delivery while the distinction lies in areas such as academic requirements and the practice in the real world. However, it is important to note that despite the above-mentioned factors, psychiatry and psychology are largely academic disciplines that are based on scientific evidence and guided by evidence-based practices.

Key words: psychology, psychiatry, difference, responsibilities.


Psychology and psychiatry are two disciplines that tend to be intertwined and go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, they lend one another skills and often work together to make sure that the patients are well taken care of. The main distinctions between the two disciplines lie in the areas of academic qualifications, the training for each of them and the practice aspects of each career path. The differences and similarities between psychology and psychiatry are discussed in the subsequent paragraphs. This paper shall explore the similarities and differences between these disciplines in a manner that shall bring out their distinct nature while at the same time capitalizing on their collaborative nature. The paper has an abstract section which briefly highlights the subject matter, an introduction section that looks at the outline of the paper while highlighting key areas, a discussion section that deals in the concepts that the paper majors in and a conclusion that summarizes the paper's content and gives a stand on the matter.

Time Commitment of Each Field

Psychology takes approximately 4 years to complete in undergraduate studies. However, there is the option of engaging in further studies in terms of masters and doctoral studies which can take an additional five to seven years. In contradistinction, psychiatry requires an individual to attend medical school for undergraduate courses, then proceed to master’s and finally spend about 5 -7 years in residency (Efpa.be). After a psychiatrist earns his MD and practice four years of residency, they are ready and fit to work in the psychiatric unit in the hospital which has a variety of patients, who range from adolescents and children with behavior disorders to people with severe cases of mental illness. One can as well choose to specialize in different fields such as general psychiatry, child psychiatry, psychoanalyst, forensic psychiatry, and much more.

A psychologist, after finishing their degree, must again obtain a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree, which takes up to 6 years. After all this, the students are required to complete an internship which at most lasts one to two years. This internship exposes them to the following: behavioral therapy, psychological theory, analytical testing, problem- solving techniques and methods of treatment. After all this hustle, for one to be licensed, most of the states demand one to two years of work experience which needs supervision by an authorized mental health professional. A psychologist cannot prescribe medication for their patients. In psychology, one can specialize but then one would be required to add more years in school to gain more knowledge on their area of specialization. (All Psychology Schools, 2002-2017).

Difference between Each Field

Psychiatry is a medical discipline while psychology is a social discipline or science. As a matter of fact, a psychiatrist is fully capable of delivering a diagnosis and prescriptions for it. A psychologist, on the other hand, can only give an assessment that can be confirmed by a psychiatrist before medication is given, from this point of view, the two fields are largely distinct while independent. Psychiatry is a medical profession that is capable of drug prescription while psychology largely deals with psychotherapy whereby it looks at the individual’s mental state and behaviors. In terms of academic qualifications, a psychiatrist takes about 4 years training in general medicine and later specializes in psychiatry while undertaking his or her residency course which can take an additional 6- 7 years. The psychiatrist’s typical day is centered on working in the hospital’s psychiatric wing and interaction with a variety of patients across every age group; that is children, adolescents, young adults and the elderly diagnosed with cases of mental illness. Psychologists, on the other hand, take about 4- 6 years to obtain a Ph.D. or PsyD degree during which they learn aspects of the development of an individual’s identity and person, history of psychological issues, as well as the scientific aspects with regards to psychological research. The last distinction is in terms of practice whereby patients often start from a primary physician who refers them to a psychologist that then can forward the case to a psychiatrist who is often charged with drug prescription and monitoring the medication of the patient where necessary. At this point, we note that psychologists and psychiatrist work hand in hand to attend to patients’ symptoms from both a psychological and psychiatric standpoint.

Path Required For Each Field

For the field of psychology, individuals are required to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following the undergraduate degree, one would then need to apple for a graduate program in pursuit of a master’s degree as well as a doctorate degree in psychology which often takes five to seven years. To be a psychiatrist, on the other hand, requires that an individual attends medical school for an undergraduate degree in science after which the person would then applies for a graduate program that is necessary to complete the medical degree. After medical school, the student is required to undertake four years of residency to train in psychiatry. The residency is typically completed at a hospital on the psychiatric unit.

Responsibilities and Similarities of Each Field.

A psychiatrist’s responsibilities are largely those of a doctor. They are responsible for giving patients consultation and diagnoses from a medical perspective. As a matter of fact, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication for patients. Psychiatrists often deal with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions that require medical attention. A psychologist, on the other hand, deals with the study and analysis of an individual’s mind. From this perspective, the psychologists is in a position to counsel individuals suffering from various states of the mind such as depression and aspects of social deviance that require an understanding of how the human mind functions. Additionally, it is crucial to note that the psychologist must endeavor to work hand in hand with the psychiatrist. This provides for an environment that sees the patient well attended to. It is often tragic when one professional attempt to perform the duties of the other, especially sensitive and technical duties which can be hard.

Gains of Comparing and Contrasting

By comparing and contrasting psychology and psychiatry, I have gained insight in the distinction between the fields which shall be invaluable in the event that I decided to pursue a career in either disciplines. Additionally, I am well place to advise fellow colleagues and every interested party on the similarities and differences between the two fields.


Psychiatry and psychology are two disciplines that are often mistaken as one and the same when in fact they are distinct and clearly discernible. This condition often stems from a lack of interest in people as far as the two professions are concerned. However, when looked carefully, the professions have a lot of overlapping areas that may actually justify the confusion. Regardless of the aspects discussed, it is important to note that these are independent professions that spawn distinct professionals.

Works Cited

All Psychology Schools. "Psychology vs Psychiatry." All Psychology Schools (2002-2017).

Efpa.be. Psychologist vs Psychiatrist - What's the Difference. 13 March 2017. Web. 13 March 2017.

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Review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 2002, pp.774-795. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.128.5.774.

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October 13, 2022

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