Psychology and psychiatry are fields of medicine in mental health with different educational tracks for doctors and different methods for treating mental illness. Psychiatry uses prescription drugs to treat mental illness, while psychology typically uses other, nondrug reliant therapies.
In order to practice, psychologists earn a Doctor's of Philosophy degree in psychology, abbreviated as PhD, or a Doctor of Psychology, also known as PsyD. Psychologists complete an internship before practicing full time. PhD's often work in research and administration, while PsyD's usually work directly with patients in a clinical setting. Psychologists typically earn undergraduate degrees in psychology before pursuing graduate studies.
Psychiatrists attend medical school and complete a medical residency to become a Medical Doctor, or MD. Undergraduate students working towards a career in psychiatry typically follow a premedical undergraduate program in science.
The primary focus of psychology is behavior as it relates to mental health. Psychology treats mental illness through various therapeutic strategies such as cognitive and behavioral therapy. In some states, psychologists may complete courses in psychopharmacology, allowing them to prescribe a limited number of pharmaceuticals.
The primary focus of psychiatry is both behavior and physical health as they relate to mental health. Psychiatry treats mental health using therapy, like psychology. However, psychiatrists also rely on prescription pharmaceuticals and address other physical ailments as part of the overall goal of promoting mental health.