Difference Between Therapist and Psychiatrist


When you’re struggling with your relationships, self-esteem or ability to keep a positive mindset, it can be beneficial to talk through your feelings with a qualified professional who will listen non-judgmentally and offer their impartial advice. However, finding a mental health provider can be challenging if you aren’t sure what to look for. You can use this explainer to help you understand the different types of professionals who can help you.

Therapists vs. Psychiatrist

The term therapists encompasses a wide range of mental health care providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, substance abuse specialists and social workers. It’s technically correct to call a psychiatrist who offers therapy a therapist, but the terms aren’t interchangeable. 

One crucial difference between the two professional designations is in the level of education necessary to become a psychiatrist. While most state licensing boards require therapists to have a master’s degree, psychiatrists are medical doctors. After earning their M.D., a psychiatrist must complete additional training through a residency in psychiatric care, where they learn how to treat disorders like trauma, depression and anxiety. 

Psychiatrists’ education and experience have given them a comprehensive understanding of the mind-body connection. Whereas a therapist will recommend healthy coping techniques and lifestyle changes to improve your mental well-being, a psychiatrist can work with you on your journey toward overall health.

Should You See a Psychiatrist?

Another notable distinction separating therapists and psychiatrists is psychiatrists’ ability to write prescriptions. If you are seeking medical help to manage conditions like depression, anxiety, insomnia or ADHD, you might be better off seeing a psychiatrist. 

Thanks to their comprehensive training, a psychiatrist can assess your symptoms and give you a clearer picture of your mental and physical well-being. For example, if you are always fatigued, sluggish and have trouble concentrating, a straightforward screening with a doctor’s diagnostic tools could reveal that you have a vitamin D deficiency instead of depression.

Benefits of Working With a Therapist

Women with a family or personal history of substance abuse might understandably be wary about using medication to manage their mental health. In that case, you can visit your primary care physician for a screening to rule out biological factors that may mimic mental illnesses and search for a therapist who specializes in treating your unique challenges. A therapist can recommend some drug-free ways to improve your mental health. 

  • Exercise: Exercising triggers a release of endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting hormones. If you have insomnia, adding more physical activity to your day will also help improve your sleep quality.
  • Meditation: Issues like PTSD and anxiety can cause people to dwell on past events or worry about an uncertain future. Meditation is a time-tested way to eliminate negativity by staying grounded in the present moment. 
  • Controlled breathing: It’s an excellent idea to learn some breathing techniques if you’re prone to panic attacks. 

Explore Women’s-Only Treatment in Arizona

At Canyon Crossing, we empower women to live full, healthy lives with our compassionate approach to treating addiction and mental health disorders. Reach out to us to learn about our guiding philosophy and the experience you can expect. 

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
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