Let’s Get Medical: Psychiatrist v. Psychologist

If pondering the difference between these medical professions has you scratching your head, you’re not the only one. Psychiatrists and psychologists are commonly confused medical professions. Which one can prescribe medicine? Are different types of education required? It’s easy to get the two mixed up. Fortunately, OCH of Gravette psychologist Dr. Jason Glass has taken the guess-work out of it! Here, he makes it easy to differentiate between the two.   

Although the titles are quite similar, psychologists and psychiatrists are two totally distinct professions with different education, training, and services they provide.  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of mental disorders.  Because they are physicians, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications to treat mental illness.  Perhaps the most famous psychiatrist of all is the one and only Sigmund Freud.  Freud proposed the first theory of personality development and coined the term “ego”.  Although the fact is generally overlooked, Freud began as a neurologist and presented research findings that laid the foundation for the modern understanding of cerebral palsy. 

Psychologists, on the other hand, are PhD’s, PsyD’s, or even EdD’s (individuals who have a doctorate in education but specialize in psychology).  Psychology is essentially an academic and/or applied study of human behavior.  Psychologists can work in a variety of settings and may conduct research, psychological evaluations, consultation/education, or even provide therapy.  Psychology is a broad field.  In fact, a psychologist was recently noted for successfully training rats to detect landmines.  The most famous psychologists are probably television host Dr. Phil McGraw and sex therapist Dr. Joyce Brothers. 

One of the key aspects in differentiating the two disciplines is the psychiatrist’s ability to prescribe medication; however, some states are pushing for psychologists to have the authority to prescribe medication (psychologists in New Mexico and Louisiana with additional education are now legally able to prescribe psychiatric medications).  Another area where the two differ is psychotherapy.  Although some psychiatrists still provide “talk” therapy, this is a practice mostly performed by psychologists.

Jason R Glass, Psy.D. is a psychologist affiliated with Ozarks Community Hospital of Gravette and the OCH of Gravette Clinic.  Dr. Glass is a provisionally licensed psychologist in the state of Arkansas and is currently under the supervision of OCH licensed psychologist Mark W. Glover, Ph.D. Some of the psychological services provided through OCH include: adult psychotherapy for anxiety and depression; anger management training; dementia evaluation and consultation; probation and parole evaluation; parental fitness evaluation; and pre-surgical psychological evaluation and consultation.


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