Psychiatry vs. Clinical Psychology

Psychiatry is the branch of medicine that is concerned with the study and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists complete the normal sequence of coursework and internship training in a medical school (usually four years) before going on to receive specialized residency training (another four years) that is focused on abnormal behavior. By virtue of their medical training, psychiatrists are licensed to practice medicine and therefore are able to prescribe medication. Most psychiatrists are also trained in the use of psychosocial intervention (Oltmanns & Emery, 2012, p. 13).

Clinical psychology is concerned with the application of psychological science to the assessment and treatment of mental disorders. A clinical psychologist typically completes five years of graduate study in a department of psychology, as well as a one-year internship, before receiving a doctoral degree. Clinical psychologists are trained in the use of psychological assessment procedures and in the use of psychotherapy. Within clinical psychology, there are two primary types of clinical training programs. One course of study, which leads to the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) degree, involves a traditional sequence of graduate training with major emphasis on research methods. The other approach, which culminates in a Psy.D. (doctor of psychology) degree, places greater emphasis on practical skills of assessment and treatment and does not require an independent research project for the dissertation. One can also obtain a Ph.D. degree in counseling psychology, a more applied field that focuses on training, assessment, and therapy (Oltmanns & Emery, 2012, p. 13).


Oltmanns, T. F. & Emery, R. E. (2012). Abnormal psychology (7th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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