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Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Counselor? What is the difference?

Dr. Sarah Kranz, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with the state of Texas. We often get questions about different types of mental health providers and what services are provided by each.

Here is the quick rundown:

*A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D.). A psychiatrist can write a prescription for medication, while a psychologist (in the state of Texas) cannot currently do so. A psychiatrist has been to medical school and typically completes 2-3 years in a residency program. A psychiatrist will often work hand-in-hand with a psychologist if a full psychological evaluation is needed help determine the appropriate diagnoses so that the proper treatment can be prescribed.

*A counselor (LPC, LMFT) is trained to provide counseling services. They hold a Master's Degree, have passed a state licensing exam, and have completed 2000-3000 hours of specialized training in counseling under supervision. A counselor can help people work through any number of personal or family difficulties.

*A psychologist has either a Psy.D. or Ph.D. A psychologist typically has 6 years of graduate work in the field of psychology and must complete 2 years of supervised practice before being allowed to practice independently. Psychologists are qualified to perform counseling, conduct research (usually through a university) and analyze statistical data, and they are the only type of clinician who is trained/qualified to perform a psychological evaluation. Psychological testing requires not only knowing how to give the tests, but also what situations are appropriate for the tests. A psychologist can score the tests and then integrate the test information with clinical interviews, background information, knowledge of personality theory, knowledge of emotional functioning, and knowledge of human development and research. The end result of a psychological evaluation is a comprehensive and holistic view of an individuals strength's and weaknesses.

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