NZ Psychological Society
NZ Psychologists Board
NZ Pain Society
British Psychological Society

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

A psychiatrist has trained first as a doctor, then gone on to specialise in disorders of the brain such as Schizophrenia, Depression etc. Following assessment of a client they can issue prescriptions for suitable medication. In New Zealand they work mostly in mental health settings and don’t often do therapy. You may find that overseas trained psychiatrists will also treat their clients as well as providing medication.

A Psychologist assists clients with problems in their lives. They are trained in all aspects of psychological functioning (cognitive, emotional, behavioural, spiritual and intellectual). Usually trained in a particular therapy model (eg Cognitive Behavioural therapy), they work collaboratively with their client to help them achieve therapy goals.

A Clinical Psychologist is trained to incorporate biological, social and psychological factors into their assessment and adopt a “scientist-practitioner” approach to diagnosis and treatment. This means that the therapy they provide has a proven research base. This approach also assists them to be flexible and to alter treatment methods as more information becomes available from their client.


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