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Ask the Expert

Sep 05, 2012 04:58AM ● By Style

Q: What’s the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

A: This is a question I’m asked frequently while practicing as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMH-NP). When meeting clients for the first time, it is frequently followed by “What are you?” A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with the ability to prescribe medication as appropriate, while a psychologist does “talk therapy” and refers clients to a psychiatrist if medication evaluation is needed. This is a bottom-line explanation. There are all kinds of specializations in both fields. With some exception, psychiatry has become more focused on medication management. There are many reasons for this trend – I’ve observed that medication management can resolve a multitude of client’s symptoms in a relatively short period of time. Psychotherapy tends to be a slower process, requiring more patience.

Sadie Betito, MSN, PMH-NP
Metro Sacramento
Psychiatric Services
Roseville, 916-788-7260