Therapists and psychiatrists both deal with mental health, but they approach it from two different perspectives. Therefore, it is essential to understand the differences between psychiatrists and Therapists. Understanding the differences can be vital in getting the type of health care you want to receive.

Therapists and psychiatrists treat many of the same conditions. Depending on the severity of the issue, both are great sources to use if you have trouble sleeping. Both can help individuals cope with sexual dysfunctions, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.


Psychiatrists have medical degrees while Therapists do not. Therapists with doctorate degrees, often in psychology or philosophy, can use the word doctor before their name, but they are not medical doctors. Psychiatrists have 11 years of formal training, including the same training a general practitioner receives, and they also complete five years of advanced training in mental health.

Ability to Prescribe Medicine

A psychiatrist can prescribe medicine while a Therapist cannot in most states. Therefore, if you believe that you need medication to treat your mental health challenge, seek out a psychiatrist.


A psychiatrist usually covers more types of issues than a Therapist. When you visit a Therapist, expect them to focus on behavioral patterns, and they will encourage you to change how you look at life and react to it. Meanwhile, a psychiatrist will often prescribe medicine without too much focus on behavior.

Treatment Approach

Psychiatrists can use a variety of treatment methods, including:

• Medication
• Light therapy
• Electroconvulsive therapy
• Brain stimulation
• Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Therapists also can use different treatment methods, including:

• One-on-one therapy
• Group therapy
• Family therapy
• Couples therapy
• Peer support groups

The main goal of both professionals is to help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.


Complex Cases

Generally, a psychiatrist handles more complex cases. Therapists often refer to a psychiatrist when they think that a person has multiple medical conditions that are interacting with each other. Because of the complexity of the cases seen, you will often wait longer to see a psychiatrist than a Therapist. However, at American Behavioral Clinics our wait time to see any of our specialists is shorter than most clinics throughout the Midwest.

Regardless of whether you seek treatment from a Therapist or a psychiatrist, we encourage you to get the help you need. We would love to discuss your treatment options with you very soon with a FREE phone consultation. Do not delay feeling better about yourself and your relationship with other people as help is available.