When parents or caregivers begin to seek medical help for their child’s ADHD (ADD), anxiety or depression, they often look to child psychiatrists and psychologists. What is the difference between a child psychiatrist vs psychologist? The answer is fairly simple. The two distinct differences are education and treatment approach. Even though both medical professionals may offer similar psychotherapy services, a psychiatrist has a medical background. Dr. Katie Skelton, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Seguin, and Texas Hill Country area child and adolescent psychiatrist, explains the differences of a child psychiatrist vs psychologist.

Child Psychiatrist vs Child Psychologist Overview

There is a lot of confusion in the general public between child psychiatrist vs psychologist. Both types of medical professionals are trained to help children and teenagers with mental health illnesses by talking through problems and providing resources to help manage issues in everyday life at school and in the home. Even though the psychotherapy treatment approach is similar, there are important differences in overall psychiatric services and education.

A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) that has completed four years of medical school, three to four years of residency training in general psychiatric services and mental health, and an additional two years fellowship training to subspecialize in working with children with mental illness. Because of this extensive education, a child psychiatrist is able to prescribe medications. A psychologist may have a doctoral degree (PhD) in the area of psychology, the study of human behavior and the mind. They are not medical doctors, so they cannot prescribe medications in the majority of cases.

The second key difference between a child psychiatrist vs psychologist is the treatment approach. Psychologists look closely only at behavior. They commonly track mood swings, negative thoughts, sleep patterns and eating patterns to diagnose a mental illness. A child psychiatrist has a stronger knowledge of biology and neurochemistry, so the diagnosis is often a process of exclusion. For example, before diagnosing depression, a psychiatrist is going to eliminate possible health conditions such as thyroid problems or toxin exposure.

Psychiatric Services Provided by a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

A child and adolescent psychiatrist provides comprehensive psychiatric services in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, such as ADHD (ADD), anxiety and depression. With a medical education, a psychiatrist is able to combine psychotherapy, medications and consultation with outside parties in order to properly address the feeling, thinking and behavioral disorder.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist, such as Dr. Skelton, uses the knowledge of biological, psychological and social factors when working with children and adolescents. She begins treatment with a comprehensive diagnostic examination to evaluate the current problem. She will focus on the problem’s physical, genetic, developmental, emotional, cognitive, educational, family, peer and social components. Once a diagnosis and treatment plan is reached, Dr. Skelton will share with the patient and family.

If you would like more resources on a child psychiatrist vs psychologist, or would like to discuss psychiatric services provided by Dr. Katie Skelton, please contact her New Braunfels, San Marcos and Seguin, Texas area practice.