The Differences between Psychology and Psychiatry

It’s ridiculous, because I’ve been asked by a psychology graduate about how to become a psychiatrist after completing her psychology undergraduate degree, from a top local university.

What?? Are you sure that you completed a psychology degree without even knowing that though both are in mental health field and both can provide therapy services, but psychologists and psychiatrists follow completely different routes?

The most distinctive difference lies in our educational backgrounds. The psychiatrists have a degree in medicine (and after becoming a so-called GP/doctor they further on become specialized in psychiatry) whereas the psychologists receive postgraduate or doctorate training in psychology after their undergraduate (usually) psychology degree.

The second most obvious difference especially in our day-to-day practice is that the psychologists do not (and are not allowed, unless received certain training) prescribe medicine whereas the psychiatrists do.

N.B. In fact there could still be a lot of differences in things that they do and don’t, clients they see and don’t etc, but I’m only pointing out the most distinctive ones here.


精神科医生 (psychiatrists)念完了医科 (medical degree) 再去攻读精神专科 (psychiatry) 或心理医科 (psychological medicine), 所以他们可以用药配药, 而心理学家 (psychologists) 则没有医药背景, 所以不能配药. 普遍两者都常被称为心理医生, 但是其实心理学家不具医学资格, 所以不能被称为医生 (doctor), 一般可以直接以先生 (Mr.), 女士 (Ms./ Mdm)或小姐 (Miss) 称呼.

心理治疗师 (psychotherapist) 一般是指进行心理治疗 (psychotherapy) 的心理学家 (psychologists),但是也有些精神科医生 (psychiatrists) 也受训进行心理治疗.

所以如果你问, 刚念完了心理学学士 (psychology degree), 要如何成为精神科医生 (psychiatrist) 呢? 两者走的是完全不同的训练路线. 唯一的答案, 就是去念医学学士(medical degree), 在专攻精神 专科, 虽然心理学的知识不会作废, 但其实成为精神专科医生, 与你的心理学学士没有直接关系.

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