Difference Between Psychologist & Psychiatrist

Psychology and Psychiatry

Even though both psychology and psychiatry are courses that deal with the behavior of the human mind, as professions, these two are very different. It is a common mistake to confuse one for the other because they often work together to help a patient and their job descriptions can seem like they overlap. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two is to remember that psychiatrists are trained medical doctors and are allowed to prescribe medicines. Psychologists, on the other hand, use psychotherapy and behavioral intervention to alleviate the mental and emotional turmoil that a patient is going through.

In this article, we have tried to bring out the difference between the two and explain to prospective practitioners how these careers are different and what you can expect.

Psychology vs. Psychiatry: The Difference in Education

To become a psychologist, a student must do their bachelors and master's degree in psychology and then obtain a doctoral degree to practice as a psychologist. Psychologists also typically need to do an internship for a couple of years. They are also trained to administer psychology tests.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who undergo the same difficult medical course that other doctors to undertake. Students are expected to do an internship and 3 years of residency before they can sit for an exam to become a licensed psychiatrist

Psychology: An Overview

As a profession, it is the application of the understanding of a person’s behavior to help solve human problems. Psychology deals with behavior of a person and so psychologists can apply their findings and knowledge to a lot of services which involve human behavior and human involvement like, sports, management and law.

A Clinical Psychologist can be hired at hospitals or as a counselor. School psychologists take care of behavioral problems of children in schools. Industrial psychologists can use their knowledge at an organisation to motivate employees and a social psychologist examines individuals and trends of a society.

How they work

Psychologists note their findings through a lot of ways like laboratory experiments, interacting with people, observing people’s behavior in a certain situation, aptitude and intelligence tests, and finding trends in surveys. Psychologists can even specialize in a field of their choice.

Areas of Specialization

  • Clinical psychology

  • Criminal psychology

  • Sports psychology

  • Business psychology

  • Forensic psychology

Offered Courses and Eligibility

You can pursue undergraduate courses like B.A (H) in Psychology. You need to have a HSC (or equivalent) to pursue a Bachelor's degree in psychology.

Average Salary of a Psychologist in India

If a psychologist has his/her own practice, they generally charge by the hour, which can range from INR 300 an hour to INR 1000 an hour. As an entry-level psychologist, PayScale reports suggest, that you can earn anywhere between INR 1.7 LPA to INR 6.2 LPA depending on your skill, where you have graduated from, and where you are working.

Psychiatry: An Overview

A unique sort of medical specialty, this field delves into the problems of the mind from a medical perspective and the treatment of disorders such as:

  • Affective,
  • Behavioural
  • Cognitive
  • Perceptual

with the help of medication and intensive treatements.

A psychiatrist is a doctor who is certified to treat mental disorders. Since a psychiatrist is a qualified doctor, he can prescribe medicine, use techniques like interpersonal relationship (psychotherapy) and a wide range of other techniques to cure the illness.

How They Work

Psychiatrists are trained in psychotherapy, techniques to either directly or indirectly image the structure and function of the brain (neuroimaging) and other such techniques. Psychiatrists conduct tests to examine the mental state of the patient and compile a case history. This case history is then used to establish the mode of treatment for the patient.


The field of psychiatry itself can be divided into various sub-specialties. These include:

  • Addiction psychiatry

  • Adult Psychiatry

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry

  • Consultation-liaison psychiatry

  • Cross-cultural psychiatry

  • Emergency psychiatry

  • Forensic psychiatry

  • Learning disability

  • Neurodevelopmental disabilities

  • Neuropsychiatry

  • Psychosomatic medicine

Offered Courses and Eligibility

To pursue psychiatry, you need to pursue MBBS, and then specialize in psychiatry. You can then super specialize in any of the above mentioned fields. There is no course offered at the undergraduate level. Subjects needed at the HSC level are: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Average Salary of a Psychiatrist in India:

With the number of years psychiatrists spend studying to reach a career-ready stage, their salaries are significantly higher than psychologists. According to PayScale, a psychiatrist just starting out can expect an average salary of INR 7.8 LPA.

Both the fields share a number of characteristics and both are equally important to study, research, and develop treatments for mental illnesses.

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