At Kilpan and Associates a common question often asked is, what is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

The difference is fairly straightforward.

A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor, who has specialized in abnormal psychology.  They are involved in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders and are able to prescribe drugs.

Psychiatrists in New Zealand, are members of the New Zealand Medical Council.

A psychologist’s qualification involves studying either to masters or doctorate level in psychology.

Unless certified through specialist post graduate training, a psychologist does not prescribe drugs.

New Zealand psychologists are registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board.

Some of the other terms we often get asked about include neuro psychologist, psychotherapy and counselling.

A neuro psychologist uses a host of tests to evaluate intelligence, traumatic brain injury and possible cognitive deficit which people may suffer from as a result of an accident, genetic makeup, illness or mental retardation.

Psychotherapy is the application of specialist techniques in the treatment of mental disorders or to problems of everyday adjustment. In the strictest sense, the term includes psychoanalysis, non-directive or directive counselling, psychodrama and so on.

Counselling is a broad term, covering a wide variety of procedures to help people achieve balance in their daily lives.  These procedures can include giving advice, therapeutic discussions and vocational assistance.