Psychiatry and psychology help people suffering from mental health issues, but in different ways!
Used interchangeably by some people, both branches of science use different methodologies to help or treat people.
Let us take a look at the historical journey of both fields to give you an insight into them.
Psychiatry: Let us take it from the beginning. The term “psychiatry” comes from the Greek words “psyche”, which is equivalent to “mind” or “soul”, and “iatreia”, which means “healing”.
Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders.
Unfortunately, till the 18th century, mental illnesses were more or less seen as an influence of demons or demonic power on a person.
It is the groundbreaking efforts of people like French physician Philippe Pinel, and American physicist, Benjamin Rush in the 1700s which shed a different light on mental illnesses.
In the 19th century, the systematic approach was used by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin.
The famous Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s work into psychoanalysis was groundbreaking research in psychiatry.
Freud’s research into the concepts of ego and unconscious still plays a major role in understanding human behavior and deep behavioural issues that a child might carry into adulthood.
Freud’s insight into the human mind fundamentally revolutionized psychoanalysis.
Psychology: Psychology comes from the Greek roots where psyche means ‘mind’ or ‘soul’, and the suffix ology is equivalent to ‘study of’ or ‘science of”’
Psychology is a scientific discipline that studies mentals states and processes and behaviors in humans and other animals, according to the Britannica encyclopedia.
Starting from the early works of Plato and Aristotle to Hippocrates’ classification of basic human temperaments or humor, from Descartes’ dualistic mind-body split to William James’ and William Wundt’s progressive work in the 19th century, and Watson’s behaviorism in the 20the century, philosophers and scientists tried to decipher the code that can give access to the complex and mysterious mind, so that human behavior can be better understood.
Psychology streamlined as a scientific discipline post-1950s.
Today, the field investigates multiple aspects of human social behavior like child development, elements of animal psychology like sensation, perception, and memory.
Behavioral therapy is an offshoot of all the research and influences like Freudian psychoanalysis and others.
Behaviorists developed methods that analyze learning conditions that impact social behavior.
Behaviorists analyze the problematic social behavior of individuals and try to modify the same through different methods.
Cognitive science came into the picture a little later and argued against behaviorists.
Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is the latest development in psychology that helps psychologists to recognize and change negative behavior patterns and is considered a gold mine for psychologists.
Psychologist: The primary difference is in qualification.
A psychologist makes his way into the profession through studying psychology as an undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral candidate.
Psychologists work and get trained in several settings like schools, colleges, clinics, prisons, government, and other such areas.
A licensed psychologist usually practices his profession after selecting an area of specialization.
Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are medical practitioners or doctors, who diagnose and treat mental health disorders and usually specialize in psychology.
A doctor goes through rigorous years of studying, and later on, acquires an MD in psychology.
Psychiatrists work in hospitals and engage in individual and group therapy to engage with patients and prescribe drugs or other forms of therapies.
Psychiatrists: As a medical practitioner, a psychiatrist can employ any or all the treatments; drugs, biofeedback, electroconvulsive therapy, and others.
The doctor assesses both mental and physical effects and chemical imbalances that may be the underlying cause of a mental health condition.
A psychiatrist also masters and works via psychotherapeutic elements like cognitive-behavioral, and so on.
Advances in science have also brought neuroimaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, positron emission tomography or PET and single-photon emission computed tomography or SPECT, which shed a better light on the development and functioning of the brain.
The human mind is complex and each patient may require one or more forms of treatments at a given point. No patient or doctor or treatment can work in isolation.
So, a combination of environmental factors, genetics, and other specialists like social workers, and psychologists is important to get a complete package for the patient.
Psychologists: Psychologists are essentially counsellors who talk or interact with a patient and try to treat their emotional and mental suffering through behavioral intervention.
Youth psychologists treat mental disorders, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues.
These counsellors help the patients in handling stressful events, addictions and manage mental illnesses in a better way. A psychologist is not allowed to prescribe medicines.
Psychologists use a set of empirical methods like experiments, studies, and surveys to quantify, predict, and analyze human behavior in a social setting.
Scientific observation is the primary tool that is utilized by psychologists to understand human behavior. Some of the major tools used by modern-day psychologists are;
- Cognitive restructuring is a critical part of CBT where a psychologist tries to restructure the response of a patient to a certain psychological trigger.
- The functional analysis understands the emotional triggering in an individual in a specific context and creates a treatment plan.
- NET or narrative exposure therapy uses the traumatic memory of a patient and tries to change how he/she may react to it.
- Mindfulness is a meditative technique where the patient observes his feelings non-judgmentally and calmly.
- Case formulation is a way to involve the patient in evaluation and solution forming. Both patient and specialist work together to reach a consensus on the best solution for the future.
- BATD is a kind of positive reinforcement technique that primarily helps in treating depression.
Anyone who wants help or is interested in psychology or psychiatry must understand that both fields often work as a collaborative effort.
The human mind and its pathological illnesses are deep, multi-faceted and complex, and can not always be cured or healed via one particular medicine or specialist.
So, when a patient begins to see a psychiatrist for primary care, he may be referred to a psychologist for further investigation.
A psychologist’s feedback can later help the psychiatrist to prescribe drugs accordingly.
Often, it is the combined efforts of doctors, counsellors and family members that can bring some form of emotional and psychological healing for the patient.
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