Difference in Doctors: Part One

Health can often be something we don’t follow through with as much as we should. We often put off doctors appointments with silly excuses like ” I have no time” “I couldn’t get through to the doctor” etc etc… But as they say “put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others” You cannot complete your daily activities and/or help others without properly taking care of yourself. The thing is, so many of us don’t know the basic distinctions between mental health doctors, so let’s dive in!

The Difference

Let’s start with:

  • Family Doctor (often referred to as a GP – general practitioner): I also like to refer to GP’s as your home base. some GP’s specialize in other areas of medicine and if they do – bonus! Think of your GP as someone you come back to for maintenance and acute illnesses (such as a cold or yeast infection). They’re kind of like your #1 who makes sure that anything done by another doctor is working for you and keeps working for you. *Can prescribe medication*
  • Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor first, thus they have received an MD (doctor of medicine), and they have decided to specialize in mental health. *Can prescribe medication*
  • Psychologist:  A psychologist is someone who specializes in human behaviour. According to the Canadian Psychological Association “A practicing psychologist is trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling and behaviour as well to help people overcome or manage these problems. A psychologist is uniquely trained to use psychological tests to help with assessment and diagnosis. Psychologists help people to overcome or manage their problems using a variety of treatments or psychotherapies.” *Can not prescribe medication (however this is changing in the USA)*
  • Therapist: A blanket term used for a person who specializes in a certain type of therapy. However, most commonly referring to psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor.

It’s a lot easier to find the help you need if you know what you’re looking for.


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