This is a common question people have about mental health services. You may be considering if you should talk to someone about your mental health, but should you see a therapist or a psychiatrist?
The difference between psychiatry and therapy is a relevant topic among many practices, as it’s important to offer a wide range of mental health treatment options. Psychology, or therapy, focuses on addressing behavioral patterns through psychotherapy, while psychiatry prescribes medication and monitors from a clinical standpoint.
If you are dealing with life changes and challenges, and you want to understand your behaviors and thoughts better, therapy may benefit you. If you’re experiencing a more complex condition that’s impacting your health physically, nutritionally, etc., you might prefer to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication. Therapy and psychiatry often work together or overlap when developing well-rounded and effective treatment.
What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Therapists are also called psychologists, which can be confusing because they sound so similar. There are different educational requirements and credentials for therapists versus psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the area of mental health care. On top of attending medical school for at least 4 years, psychiatrists also undergo 4-5 years of residency, specifically in psychiatric care.
Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they are licensed and able to prescribe medication to their patients, while therapists cannot. Psychiatrists can offer a well-rounded approach to treatment by accurately diagnosing mental health conditions. Their medical training and education help determine and rule out any environmental or physical causes.
Psychiatrists also treat more complex, more severe mental health disorders that generally require medication, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. While therapists focus mainly on psychotherapy and addressing behaviors, psychiatrists have a wider range of treatment options.
Should I See a Therapist or a Psychiatrist?
If you are seeking support for your mental health, you might be trying to determine if you should see a therapist or a psychiatrist. While therapists and psychiatrists often work together as part of your overall care team, these questions may help you decide whom you should primarily work with:
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, consider seeing a therapist:
- Would you prefer talking with someone over taking medication to help your mental health?
- Are you looking for a more affordable mental health treatment option?
- Has your primary care doctor ruled out any medical conditions or health factors that may impact your mental health?
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, a psychiatrist may be a better fit:
- Are you open to taking medication for your mental health?
- Do you have physiological or medical symptoms related to mental health that need to be evaluated?
- Do you have a more complex mental health disorder? (Such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression)
Schedule a Psychiatry or Therapy Appointment at our St. Louis Park, MN Clinic
At West End Consultation Group, we have multiple mental health care providers with both psychiatrists and therapists on staff. Our team works together to help develop a comprehensive mental health treatment plan when you request an appointment at WECG. Check out our patient mental health resources before your visit.
Our specialists serve adults across the Twin Cities who are seeking treatment for mental health disorders. Our office is located near Minneapolis, so schedule an appointment today if you live in Minnesota.