Psychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Psychoanalyst: What is the difference? Find out

Psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, they all deal with mental problems and issues. They try to cure the problem from the core providing us with emotional support and sometimes with medications. But what is the exact difference between them? Find out below.
Psychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Psychoanalyst: What is the difference? Find outPsychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Psychoanalyst: What is the difference? Find out
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Earlier, going for therapy or counselling was observed as having some mental disorder and people going for the session were also considered to be mentally ill. So, they also used to hide their problems to avoid these stigmas associated with counselling. But now the concept has been evolved. People can now opt for  counselling therapy when something disturbs their mental peace.

But are you going to the right person for your therapy? Often, we don’t understand the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst. As a result, we cannot decide whom should we consult for our mental health issues. So, on this mental health week, we have focused on the differences in psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. 

What is the difference in a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst?


A psychologist mainly deals with emotional issues. They generally need to get a doctorate or PhD degree in clinical psychology or counselling psychology for the practice. A person with low-self esteem will go to consult a psychologist because he needs to vent out his suppressed emotions and doesn’t have any physical disturbances. A psychologist can never prescribe any medication for the treatment.


A psychiatrist is a physician who deals with mentally ill patients. They need an MD degree in psychiatry after pursuing MBBS. They can only prescribe medicines for a patient. Someone with Schizophrenia will consult a psychiatrist because he has some physical changes in him and needs medicines for the treatment. Psychiatrists deal with clinical issues rather than emotional ones.


Psychoanalyst follows Freudian theories for therapy which includes childhood memories in the subconscious mind, dreams, infantile sexuality, libido, repression and transference. A psychoanalyst is more like a psychologist who deals with emotional problems. But they cannot prescribe medicines and their method of counselling is a bit different from that of a psychologist. They focus on the subconscious memories of a patient to find a solution of the current problem. And psychoanalysts need to meet their patients three to four times a week rather than once in a week.

How to choose?

Most of the time you will be guided by the receptionists of the therapy clinic for the consultation. But if something bothers you then you can always start with a counselling therapy from a psychologist. He would recommend you to a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst if he sees you need either of them.

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Anonymous 6 days ago

It's about time there was inform8made available to the public regarding the differences between these professions. Particularly difference between Psychologists. A POST GRADUATE Psychologist completes between 6-8 years FULL TIME University training which includes extensive clinical placements. This is then followed by another 2 years working as a Registrar under supervision. A grueling minimum of between 8-10 years combined education and clinical placements. Specialist endorsed psychologists have been devalued and largely ignored despite significant differences between training comlared to 'Generalist' Psychologists. It is this difference that the public appear to be completely unaware of. Medical Practitioners also need to be educated in order to refer patients to psychologists where a patient needs are complex. Neither AHPRA nor the APS have ever launched any type of public awareness campaign. Its about time they did.

Anonymous 1 week ago

It's very helpful.

Anonymous 1 week ago

Nice article

Anonymous 1 week ago

Indeed !

Anonymous 1 week ago

Several inaccuracies here. Psychoanalytic theories have developed/evolved significantly since Freud's day, so most contemporary psychoanalysts do not identify themselves as Freudian, even if they acknowledge Freud's foundational influence - Kleinian, Bionian, Object Relations, Intersubjectivists, Relationalists, etc. There are also Jungian psychoanalysts. Secondly, psychoanalysts may have received their initial training in a variety of mental health disciplines - psychiatry, psychology, social work, professional counselor, pastoral counselor, nursing, etc. So there are psychoanalysts who prescribe medications in addition to providing psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Also, not all psychoanalysts insist their patients come 3-4 times a week. While increased frequency often facilitates the process, we also recognize that some patients do not have the time or money of this. In those cases, many psychoanalysts are will to provide less intensive treatment at 1 or 2 times per week. Mark Winborn, PhD, NPsyA (licensed psychologist, nationally certified psychoanalyst, certified Jungian psychoanalyst)

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