Psychology is the science of understanding human behaviour.
Psychiatry is a medical specialty dealing with the treatment and prevention of mental and emotional disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, who spent 4 or more years specializing in the treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists may or may not use medications in conjunction with other strategies such as supportive psychotherapy.
Some psychologists are in clinical practice, and will see and treat patients and in some jurisdictions may have authority to prescribe medications.
Psychologists work in conjunction with their psychiatrist colleagues to provide a wide range of treatment options.
I welcome additions, corrections and comments to my understanding as I've described it.
Steve has it basically correct. Psychiatry is a sub-discipline of medicine, the study of "diseases or illnesses of the mind (psyche)". Thus, the practice of psychiatry is geared toward treating disease, as other areas of medicine, primarily through the use of medications, surgery, and other medical procedures but also sometimes including the "talk therapies" introduced to medicine by Freud.
Psychology, on the other hand, is the study of behavior, both normal and abnormal, so it is a broader science and less focused on a disease model. Clinical psychologists treat many of the same conditions or disorders as psychiatrists, sometimes in conjunction with psychiatrists and/or family physicians but more commonly not. In a few jurisdictions, some specially trained/certified psychologists have the legal right to prescribe certain types of medications but generally this is not true. Psychologists also rely more on psychotherapies than on medications although of course the combination is frequently used as the most appropriate and effective treatment.
I think clear explanations to average people out here reading the forum are fantastic, until yesterday when some member brought up the confusion issue I never really looked into it or bothered to research the matter, so at nearly 50 years old I'm still learning and attempting to educate myself.
There are plenty of things I never knew and this field is one of them, I'm defiantly one of the outsiders looking in when it comes to these subjects.
It seems that Psychologists come with a variety of credentials, some with a Masters in education, while others hold a Doctorate in Psychology, while there are are social workers who take on the role of a Psychologist.
What are the criteria for a practitioner to counsel and treat people for psychological disorders?
Is there a professional college that governs the qualifications of all these practitioners and is there a continuing program of evaluation?
You cannot call yourself a Psychologist in Canada unless you are licensed by the provincial College of Psychologists. It is the responsibility of the College to ensure that all Registered (licensed) Psychologists meet the basic standards for education, training, and ethics, etc. The College has the authority both to grant and to revoke licenses.
Some other disciplines have their own colleges or licensing boards (e.g., Registered Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Nurses).
Some "therapists" are not licensed by any regulatory body, although there is a move toward changing this in the future.
Thus, at the moment it is to some extent a matter of "buyer beware" (caveat emptor).
For a physician, I would guess that it's 3-4 years pre-med, then another 4 for the MD, then internships and residency to get to full licensing, which would be at least 3 years, depending on the specialty.
For a psychologist, it's 4 years for an Honors B.A. or B.Sc., followed by on average 5 years for a clinical Ph.D., followed by a minimum of one year of supervised practice leading to the licensing exams.
For a guy who came a half credit short of getting a high school diploma, then gave up because another two weeks of summer school was too hard to suffer, 12 years in higher education would be beyond comprehension.
Some have the capacity and brain power to excel in structured education and others like myself just resist, I hated doing homework, was terrible at higher mathematics, hated British literature, so I bailed out in high school and burned out quickly.
I think a kid needs to be prepared for college prep education long before it is thrown in their face, I scored high on the aptitude tests and was put in classes with advanced students because of that, but could not keep up once in those classes, and this was the cause of me flunking out.
College is very different than high school. A lot of people don't realize just how different it really is. I hated high school. I'd rather have been whipped than have had to go. However, I loved college. Still do. I enjoy the atmosphere.
Yes, in those days early 70's they gave us those crazy multiple choice aptitude tests which proved to be a bad way to classify students into groups, you can't put an average student with advanced or college prep kids and that is what the school counselors forced me into even after we had meetings and I told them I would never succeed.
So I failed and they had a part in that failure, the school system failed me and to this day I still see news stories on the massive failure of the American educational system, even saw a story on how they did away with these "aptitude tests" we did back then.
I forget what they called these tests, maybe you all can help on this.