Exposing the Misconceptions: Understanding Mental Health Professionals

  • Share this:
Exposing the Misconceptions: Understanding Mental Health Professionals

A recent video of a podcast has surfaced over the internet where the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist was discussed. It is sad to see how this fantastic opportunity was used so loosely, and the true essence of the profession of a psychologist was underplayed. It has sparked various debates among the masses, and as a person who is working in the mental health field, it is sad to see how people have quoted statements like "an engineer by the day and a psychologist by night."

We need to understand that Psychology, at its very core, is based on empirical research and careful observations to understand human behaviour and how they think. I know how it can be difficult for people to understand this because when we talk about medical professionals like psychiatrists, we know they deal with the brain and the nervous system. We understand how the brain looks and how it functions. But when we talk about psychologists, they deal with the mind, something we can't see, feel, or touch, making it challenging to understand. But that does not mean it is something imaginary.

Indeed, Psychologists and Psychiatrists work together, but sadly, psychiatrists do not really understand the actual work that psychologists do. A lot of people who approach me for therapy state that they haven't really had very good experiences, especially with an Indian psychiatrist. It often makes me wonder why. And the straightforward answer to that is that, for instance, an individual has gone through sexual abuse and finds themselves alone. They do not need medication to feel better. A psychologist here would be better able to understand.

Psychologists emphasise using scientifically proven methods and not just TALK. It helps them better understand what this individual is going through. That understanding comes from experience a psychologist develops over time. A psychologist puts in at least 5-7 years to understand the nuances of human behavior, whereas a psychiatrist would undergo 2-3 years of study. By stating this, my motive is not to undermine the efforts and study a psychiatrist goes through or puts in. However, we need to understand that a Psychiatrist is an expert in understanding the biology of the human brain and nervous system. A Psychiatrist is best suited in cases when one needs medication or surgery to be better and a psychologist when the wounds are not physically visible. So, as we go around, a psychiatrist is not the only expert, but they are all equals.

For your ease of understanding, we have classified these professionals into three categories:


Clinical Psychologist


A psychiatrist is consulted when there is a problem that is detected in the biology as well as functioning of the brain and the nervous system which requires medication or surgery. A clinical psychologist is consulted when a problem is detected in the functioning of the brain which does not have a biological basis.they can practise individually but often can be seen working in collaboration with a psychiatrist and help with diagnosis,management of disorders and rehabilitation.    
A psychologist is consulted when an individual finds daily life overwhelming and finds it difficult to deal with day to day stressors.    
In India, required qualification is MD in psychiatry or Diploma in psychiatric medication. In India, required qualification is MPhil in clinical psychology. In India, required qualification is a Masters degree in psychology. 

When we talk about diagnosis, a clinical psychologist is as qualified as a psychiatrist. Yes, true. However, a clinical psychologist is not a medical professional and cannot prescribe medication.    
For instance, when an individual is going through clinical depression, they might feel they are rotting from the inside.They get engulfed by feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness accompanied by tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort. To mark the end of all these feelings, they might even be suicidal.

In a case like this, we need a psychiatrist to prescribe benzodiazepines to bring the hormonal balance in place. But the first instance when the medication hits, the individual will think of attempting suicide because of the newfound energy. And that is when the role of a clinical psychologist becomes crucial. Here we need to deal with what is happening in the mind, not the brain. So, they work together and cannot exist individually when dealing with different 'clinical diagnoses.'

It is heartbreaking to see how the field of mental health finds itself fighting this debate of importance, and the role of medicine often sabotages the role of therapy, completely forgetting that even though the goals are the same, the purpose they are in place is different. Medicines that fall under the class of benzodiazepines that are sold in the market by the name of Alprax are highly addictive.

You can read here:       

For obvious reasons, we cannot rely on them entirely. For that, we need therapeutic interventions to feel better and deal with the root cause of the issue. Otherwise, we are just going to be slaves to darkness.

'Psychology' is the study of the soul, which gained popularity when the first laboratory was set up by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig. The foundations of psychology as a science can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians in 600 BC. The phrase "know thyself" was carved into the temple at Delphi and used by ancient Greeks to worship the god Apollo. The birth of science has often been attributed to these Ancient Greeks, who became the first thinkers to shift the focus of causal explanations from the gods to the world around them, the environment.

As said, we should understand the importance of both as separate fields. Rather than undermining the roles of each professional, we need to understand why they exist in the first place. It is better to be aware than an ignorant advocate.

Understanding the differences and the individual importance of mental health professionals is an imperative step towards your better mental health journey. Knowing when to take medication and when to seek therapy helps in making informed decisions for your mental health. Solh brings you the solutions and the appropriate community support you need for better and improved mental health. Get the following by downloading the SOLH app now:  

Normalises Seeking Help: Solh combats the stigma connected with mental health by establishing a judgment-free zone. This can encourage someone who is struggling to seek expert help.

Anonymous Support Groups: Connecting with those who understand your problem can be    
quite useful. Sharing experiences and realizing they are not alone can provide a great source of comfort and encouragement.  

Talk Now: When dealing with overwhelming emotions, have access to a counselor who can help you guide you through any hiccup you face.

Clinical Support: The app's simple access to confidential consultations can be an excellent initial step for someone struggling to achieve goals who is hesitant to pursue traditional in-person therapy.

Other: Solh is a one-stop place for you to access and navigate different sources, such as audios, guides, and reading material, to help you deal with any ongoing stressor.

Download the Solh App now!