Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist: When to Seek Each?

Mental well-being in general, and for children and teenagers in particular, is a crucial topic that requires significant awareness to dispel misconceptions. In this article, I will clarify the distinctions between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, discussing when to consult a psychiatrist and when therapy sessions with a psychologist may be sufficient.

Mona Youssri Psychologist
Dr. Mona Youssri
Published on:Mar 12th 2024
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Types of Mental Health Experts


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has graduated from a medical school specializing in psychiatry. They treat mental illnesses that require medication. It's noteworthy that psychiatrists often collaborate with psychologists to address cases that require psychological and behavioral interventions. Psychiatrists may also be trained in nonmedicational therapeutic approaches, providing a comprehensive range of psychological treatments.


A psychologist holds a degree in psychology and usually has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in one of the branches of psychology. Psychologists treat mental health issues and illnesses that require cognitive-behavioral therapy or other non-pharmaceutical psychological interventions. An essential distinction is that psychologists cannot prescribe medications.

Educational Psychologist

This professional holds degrees and certifications in both general psychology and educational psychology. Educational Psychologists are adept at assessing children and teenagers' learning difficulties and joint problems.


A qualified healthcare provider with academic and scientific training, the neuropsychologist assesses mental and neural activity. It evaluates developmental issues, concentration problems, or any learning difficulties, overlapping significantly with the role of an educational psychologist.

Family Counselor

Family counselors hold degrees and training in counseling and psychology. They work with families and couples to identify the root causes of any mental issues and find suitable solutions.

School Counselor

The role of school counselors is crucial. They work with children and teenagers across all grades. They can assess behavioral, academic, psychological, or developmental issues early on, providing guidance and directing parents toward appropriate interventions.

When to Visit a Psychiatrist or Psychologist?

Parents may be uncertain about whether to seek advice and treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist when their children face mental health challenges. All the aforementioned mental health experts, whether psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors, can conduct initial assessments and offer advice on the most suitable course of action in therapy.

Guidance may lead to a psychiatrist if the condition requires medication or to a psychologist for non-pharmaceutical psychological therapy. In some cases, a combination of both may be recommended to address different aspects of the condition. Family counseling sessions may also be necessary to tackle any familial issues contributing to the problem.

Understanding the roles of various mental health professionals is crucial for parents seeking appropriate care for their children's mental well-being.

Mona Youssri Psychologist
Dr. Mona YoussriClinical Psychologist

Dr. Mona is a licensed psychologist and family counselor at the Saudi German Hospital in Dubai. She is an APA (American Psychological Association), MEPA member (Middle East Psychological Association), and ACAMH member. She is also a lifetime member of the International Honor Society in Psychology (PSI CHI). Dr. Mona is also a certified trainer and corporate Coach with a Master of Arts in Psychology from the American University Cairo. She diagnoses and treats children with behavioral problems using play therapy and behavioral management techniques.

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