ABOUT PSYCHIATRY: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROFESSIONALS
Only the Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can order medical tests and prescribe medication. It takes many years of education and training to become a psychiatrist. After earning a bachelor’s degree, he or she must graduate from medical school and go on to complete four years of residency training in the field of psychiatry.
Other professionals who care for people with mental illness or provide mental health services undergo different types of training whose length and core emphases differ according to the field of study. Here is a brief summary:
Psychologist: Most clinical psychologists have a master’s or doctoral degree; on the doctoral level, the degree is usually a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) or Psy.D. (doctor of psychology, which is not a medical doctor). A psychologist applies psychological principles to the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and developmental disabilities through a broad range of psychotherapies. A psychologist is commonly trained in advanced psychology, abnormal psychology, statistics, testing theory, psychological testing, psychological theory, research methods, psychotherapeutic techniques, and psychosocial evaluation.
Licensed clinical social worker: A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) is also trained in psychotherapy and helps individuals deal effectively with a variety of mental health and daily living problems to improve overall functioning. A social worker usually has a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and has studied, among others, sociology, growth and development, mental health theory and practice, human behavior/social environment, psychology, research methods.
Psychiatric nurse: A psychiatric nurse may have an associate arts, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in nursing. Much of the psychiatric nurse’s specialty training takes place in a hospital inpatient service. Among the services the psychiatric nurse is trained to provide (at the order of a medical doctor) are various patient care services, administration of medication, and other duties commonly performed by nurses, such as immunizations and skin tests.