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Photo: Motortion Films (Shutterstock) When you need mental healthcare, the different terminology can be confusing. Do you need a psychiatrist? A psychologist? What’s the difference between the two, anyway? Both psychiatrists and psychologists are licensed professionals who have undergone extensive training for treating mental health conditions. However, there’s a distinct difference that does make a difference in what role they’ll play in your treatment. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between the two. A psychiatrist has a medical degree and residency training In order to practice psychiatry , a psychiatrist is required to graduate from medical school, complete a four-year residency program where they obtain additional training, after which they must pass an exam administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. They’re required to re-take this exam every ten years to maintain their certification. One of the biggest differences is that a psychiatrist is able to prescribe medication, whereas a psychologist usually cannot. (The exceptions to this are if you live in Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana or New Mexico, where a psychologist can receive additional training to prescribe medication. Some psychologists who work in the military or for the federal government are also able to prescribe medication.) If part of your mental healthcare treatment plan includes medication, you will most likely need to see a psychiatrist. In addition to being able to prescribe medication, psychiatrists are also trained in talk therapy , and are equipped to either perform or request a number of tests that can help […]