Psychology & psychiatry

May 21, 2015

We're not medical doctors, we are psychologists! There is a common misconception that people have about psychologists and psychiatrists.

Numerous psychologists who do not hold a PhD degree are seen as medical doctors by some.

For example, psychologists in Oman who have completed either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s or even a PhD degree are thought to be medical doctors and have the licence to prescribe medication. This misconception is probably due to the fact that psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ job descriptions are very similar, but a psychiatrist attends a medical school, therefore, can prescribe medication.

That is why you may find people calling psychology staff 'Ya Doctor or Ya Doctora'. In order to understand the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, it is important to know who they are and what they do.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors specialised in psychiatry, which is a medical speciality devoted to preventing, diagnosing and treating mental illnesses such as depression and psychosis.

A psychiatrist's training starts after medical school and is followed by two years of residency training in a hospital, following around three years of speciality training which overall should take 12 years, including medical school, depending on which country one trains in.

A psychiatrist compared to a psychologist, can prescribe medication for patients to treat their mental illnesses. Sometimes a combination of medication and psychotherapy or counselling is needed. In such cases a psychiatrist may provide psychotherapy or may refer the patient to a counsellor or other type of mental health professional.

On the other hand, psychologists study the mind and its behaviour and look into the deeper root of mental health illnesses, i e, the causes of psychological disorders and treat them through psychotherapy and counselling.

In order to become a psychologist, you would need to complete about six to eight years of study and training to qualify as a professional licensed psychologist and specialise in a particular field, such as, clinical, forensic or organisational counselling.

Licensed psychologists are qualified to do counselling and psychotherapy, perform psychological testing, and provide treatment for mental disorders. Once again, they are not “medical doctors”. This means that psychologists cannot write prescriptions or perform medical procedures.

Often a psychologist will work in association with a psychiatrist who provides medical treatment for mental illness while the psychologist provides psychotherapy. Finally, both psychology and psychiatry can be spread into many areas, for instance, a psychologist can work in an organisation during the day whilst practice in a private clinic during the afternoons and evenings.

Psychologists can work with a range of people, such as children, adults, married couples, CEOs and businessmen as well as criminals. Oman, just like the rest of the world, is in need of local psychologists to improve the mental well-being of society. For more information, visit websites that talk about the differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.