What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, behavioral, and addiction disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and must complete medical school, pass an exam for a state license to practice medicine, and complete four years of psychiatry residency.

Psychiatry has several subspecialties and psychiatrists must complete additional training in order to become certified as a specialist. Subspecialties requiring certification include:

  • Addiction Psychiatry
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Clinical Neurophysiology
  • Forensic (legal) Psychiatry
  • Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Pain Medicine
  • Psychosomatic Psychiatry (also known as Consultation-Liaison)
  • Sleep Medicine

To learn more about psychiatry, visit the American Psychiatric Association’s website here.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who has completed medical school and four years of residency training in psychiatry. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, perform medical examinations, tests, and treatments, and can also conduct psychotherapy.

A psychologist must have a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, EdD) in order to practice, however, they are not medical doctors. Psychologists can offer psychotherapy, psychological testing and evaluation, conduct research, and work in schools, among a wide variety of other services and settings.