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What Is The Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Therapist?

Should you work with a psychiatrist, therapist, psychologist or coach? What is the difference? Finding the right mental healthcare provider can be confusing.

In order to help you identify the best provider for your specific needs, below we have outlined some of the key differences between a psychiatrist and therapist. Remember, our care coordinators are also available to provide a free consultation to help you decide who to work with for your care if needed.


1. Psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in mental healthcare. A psychiatrist has attended at least 4 years of medical school, just like your primary care physician or surgeon, to receive a general medical degree. However, psychiatrists complete an additional 4-5 years of training through a residency in psychiatric care where they learn how to specially treat mental health disorders with medication and psychotherapy. Our psychiatrists have been trained at the esteemed Mount Sinai Hospital, here in New York City.

Since psychiatrists provide psychotherapy, they can also be considered therapists, however the terms are not interchangeable. The term therapists encompasses the wide range of mental health care providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers who counsel clients in times of need.

2. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, while therapists cannot. Since your psychiatrist is a medical doctor, they are licensed to prescribe you medication if needed. They understand the complicated relationship between your mind and body. For example, many clients who pursue therapy may be interested in taking a medication to reduce symptoms of a mood disorder such as an anti-anxiety medication or an anti-depressant. A psychiatrist can help you determine if this course of treatment would be helpful on your journey toward health.


3. Psychiatrists provide an accurate diagnosis of your condition. Due to their comprehensive training in medicine, a psychiatrist can accurately determine the impact your general medical condition may have on the mental health symptoms you are experiencing. For example, is your anxiety caused by a thyroid issue or a recent job change? Is your low energy and sleep disturbance due to depression or a vitamin deficiency? A psychiatrist can consider your whole health and rule out any biological or physiological reasons for the symptoms you are experiencing.


At Healthy Minds NYC, our care coordinators can help you decide which type of care provider is best for your specific situation. Our practice employs both psychiatrists and therapists with different areas of specialization, so we are here to help no matter what your preference may be. Before speaking with our team, below are some considerations you can begin to process on your own in order to work with the best therapist.

If you agree with any of the following statements, you might consider seeing a psychiatrist:

If you agree with any of the following statements, a therapist may be best for you:

If you’re looking to begin any services with Healthy Minds NYC, the easiest way to start is by scheduling a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation with our care coordinator. During this call we’ll help determine the best course of care with you, explore your payment options and schedule your first appointment. Our goal is to speed you along your journey toward health with the best process that meets your unique needs.

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