top of page

Psychologist or Psychiatrist?

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 Psychiatry. They can prescribe, change and monitor medication, making them uniquely qualified to treat patients who:


  • Require early intervention by a medical expert qualified in both physical and mental health. 

  • Require optimally integrated treatment approach (psychotherapy and/or medication)

  • Have severe mental illness

  • Require medication or are already taking medication

Should I See a Child Psychiatrist?


For children under 18, we strongly recommend seeing a Child Psychiatrist (Paediatric 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 therapy 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 wide range mental health issues including complex and acute cases of mental health. 


Additionally, to become a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, they must complete at least two years of RANZCP accredited specialist 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. 

bottom of page