Common questions and answers about psychologists and psychological practices.

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour. Most psychologists help mentally healthy people to find ways of functioning better. For example, they train people to handle stress and family problems. Psychological therapies are also widely used by groups and organisations.

In comparison, psychiatrists work mainly with the seriously mentally ill, such as people who have schizophrenia or aquired brain injury. There are many areas that APS psychologists can help you with that fall into the area of serous mental illness, such as child and adolescent psychologists, neuropsychologists and forensic psychologists. Find out more  at the Australian Psychological Society's website www.psychology.org.au .

The difference between psychologists and psychiatrists

Psychologists and psychiatrists both work in the area of mental health, and often work together. However, there are some significant differences between the two professions in the following areas:

Services provided

Psychologists help mentally healthy people find ways of functioning better. Some psychologists specialise in treating people with a mental illness. Read about the common reasons why people see psychologists.

Psychiatrists mainly treat people with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

Education and qualifications

Psychologists study Psychology and/or Behavioural Science in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience/training and gaining registration. Psychologists do not have a medical degree, however many study for a similar number of years to specialise in various aspects of psychology. For example, clinical psychologists study for at least six years to attain their qualifications before training. Read about the qualifications of APS Psychologists.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree, which involves six years of studying general medicine, followed by further study to specialise in psychiatry.

Prescribing medication

Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Their treatments are based on changing behaviour without medication. There is a considerable amount of evidence showing psychological treatments are as effective in  many cases, as drugs.

Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Some combine medication with other forms of therapy.