Normally on Wednesdays I see my psychologist. Today I saw my psychiatrist. People often ask me what the difference is or get confused between the two. Here’s the distinction – a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the prescription and management of medication for mental disorders, sometimes accompanied by talk therapy. A psychologist’s practice is devoted to psychotherapy (talk therapy), often with behavioural and cognitive interventions. Psychologists hold doctorate degrees, but aren’t medical doctors and can’t prescribe medication. But you don’t need to see a psychologist specifically for talk therapy. Lisa, for example, has a background in social work but is a licensed psychotherapist at the West Island Therapy Centre (and not that I’m biased but she’s awesome)!
I see my psychiatrist every few months to discuss adjustments to my medications but have weekly appointments with my psychologist for general venting, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness practice and one hour of being able to talk about myself with no guilt.
For me, both professionals are essential to staying mentally healthy, and while there’s often stigma and judgement about going to see your “shrink”, I’m a huge advocate of owning it. I’ll never pretend I was going to see another doctor, because if I had heart disease, I wouldn’t hesitate to mention I was going to my cardiologist.