Psychologists and psychiatrists can both assess, diagnose and treat patients. They have both studied how the brain works to understand complex emotions, feelings and thoughts. Both are trained professionals who use psychotherapy to help treat a range of mental health challenges.
So, What’s The Difference?
The key difference is that psychiatrists are also medical doctors who have undergone additional rigorous specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry. They can prescribe, change and monitor medication, making them uniquely qualified to treat patients who:
Haven’t seen results with a psychologist
Require optimally integrated treatment approach (psychotherapy and/or medication)
Have severe mental illness
Are already taking medication
Should I See a Child Psychiatrist?
For children under 18, we strongly recommend seeing a Child Psychiatrist first, even if you or your child ends up diagnosed with a mild condition appropriately treated by a psychologist. This is because of the importance of early intervention.
Too often, diagnoses among children and teenagers is incorrect or missed due to siloed care. A psychiatric-led practice is the best chance for accurate, early assessment. Patients best suited to a psychologist or other health professional will be properly referred onwards.
We Work Together
It’s important to know that psychiatrists and psychologists frequently work together in both public and private settings. After a child psychiatrist makes an initial assessment and diagnosis, they may refer the patient to a psychologist for psychotherapy if this pathway is best.
Training in Psychology
Registered psychologists in Australia have at least six years of university training and supervised experience. Psychologists may also have a Masters Degree or Doctorate level qualification in psychology. Although psychologists with a Doctorate can call themselves “Dr.”, they are not medical doctors.
Specialist Training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Have at least 11 years of training.
First, complete a medical degree, then spend 1-2 years doing general medical training in hospitals.
Have at least five additional years of specialist psychiatry training under the supervision of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).
Specialist psychiatrist training is typically completed in the public sector dealing with complex and acute cases of mental health.
To become a child and adolescent psychiatrist, they must complete at least two years of accredited specialised training in psychiatric work with children and adolescents.
Get a Referral from your GP
To book an assessment or initial appointment with our child and adolescent psychiatrist, please talk to your GP about referrals.