Psychiatry and clinical psychology are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two different fields of healthcare. In this article, we will discuss the difference between psychiatry and clinical psychology.

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed four years of medical school and a four-year residency in psychiatry. They are trained to evaluate patients for mental health conditions, prescribe medication, and provide therapy.

Psychiatrists treat a wide range of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance use disorders. They use a combination of medication management and psychotherapy to help their patients manage their symptoms.

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology, on the other hand, is a branch of psychology that focuses on the assessment and treatment of mental illness. Clinical psychologists hold doctoral degrees in clinical psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.) and have completed an internship or residency in their field.

Clinical psychologists focus on understanding how psychological factors contribute to mental health problems. They use various forms of psychotherapy to help their patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall mental health.

The Differences Between Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology

The main difference between psychiatry and clinical psychology is the approach they take toward treating mental illness. Psychiatrists typically focus on treating mental illness with medication management while clinical psychologists focus on psychotherapy.

Another key difference is in the education required to become a practitioner in each field. Psychiatrists attend medical school while clinical psychologists attend graduate school for psychology.

Additionally, psychiatrists can prescribe medication while clinical psychologists cannot. Only certain states in the United States allow licensed psychologists to prescribe medication after completing additional training.

When to see a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist

If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Whether you should see a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist depends on your personal preferences and the type of treatment you are seeking.

If you prefer medication management for your mental health disorder, seeing a psychiatrist may be the best option. If you prefer psychotherapy or counseling, seeing a clinical psychologist may be more suitable.


In summary, psychiatry and clinical psychology are two different fields of healthcare that focus on treating mental illness. Psychiatrists use medication management and psychotherapy while clinical psychologists focus primarily on psychotherapy. When seeking help for a mental health disorder, it is important to consider your personal preferences and the type of treatment you are seeking when choosing between these two professions.