What Are the Differences Between Psychologists and Psychiatrists in Australia?

difference between psychiatrist and psychologist cadence psychology

Seeking mental health support can be an overwhelming process, especially understanding the nuances between different providers. Two common options are psychologists and psychiatrists – but what exactly sets them apart?

Gaining clarity into these key distinctions allows you to make informed choices around the mental health care that will be the best fit for your needs. At Cadence Psychology, our goal is to empower you with knowledge to navigate the mental health landscape with confidence.

Cadence Psychology itself provides personalised psychology services incorporating evidence-based therapies tailored to each client’s unique preferences and goals. So let’s start off by exploring the role of psychologists and how they can help transform lives.

Understanding Psychologists in Australia

Psychologists are university-trained mental health professionals who assess, diagnose, and provide therapeutic treatments for mental illnesses, emotional issues, and other psychological conditions.

In Australia, the title of psychologist is legally protected. To become a registered psychologist, individuals must:

  • Complete an accredited 4-year Bachelor’s degree in psychology
  • Obtain a 2-year Master’s degree or 4-year Doctorate (PhD) in psychology
  • Accrue supervised clinical practice hours
  • Pass national psychology board registration exams

These extensive requirements ensure psychologists are comprehensively trained in the science and practice of psychology. Common training backgrounds include clinical psychology, counseling psychology, forensic psychology, and organisational psychology.

There are a variety of different forms of therapy utilised by psychologists. At Cadence Psychology, our psychologists employ well-researched therapeutic techniques such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Schema Therapy
  • Play therapy for children
  • Narrative Therapy

Psychologists leverage their expertise in human emotions, behaviors, and thought processes to facilitate positive change. They help clients manage conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and relationship conflicts.

Understanding Psychiatrists in Australia

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. They attend medical school, followed by 5+ years of additional psychiatry training.

To become a practicing psychiatrist in Australia, individuals must:

  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant scientific field
  • Obtain a 4-year medical degree (MBBS, MBChB)
  • Complete 1 year internship and 1 year residency
  • Complete 4+ years advanced training in psychiatry
  • Pass exams to qualify as a Fellow of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP)

With their medical background, psychiatrists can identify underlying biological and neurological factors contributing to mental health conditions. They are experts in prescribing psychiatric medications to alleviate symptoms.

Psychiatrists may prescribe medications like:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics

They carefully monitor medication effectiveness and side effects, adjusting dosages as needed. Psychiatrists often work collaboratively with psychologists.difference between psychiatrist and psychologist woman

Key Differences Between Psychologists and Psychiatrists

While both provide mental health care, psychologists and psychiatrists play complementary roles with the following key distinctions:

Extensive training in psychotherapy and counselingExtensive medical training
Cannot prescribe medicationCan prescribe psychiatric medication
Treat mental health conditions through therapy and behavior modificationTreat mental illnesses through medication, medical interventions, and sometimes therapy
Hold a PhD, PsyD, or Master’s in psychologyHold a medical degree and specialization in psychiatry
Registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)Registered with Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP)

How Psychologists at Cadence Psychology Can Help

At Cadence Psychology, our team of registered psychologists leverage their extensive training and experience with evidence-based therapies to facilitate healing and growth.

We take a holistic, client-centered approach focused on understanding each individual’s unique needs and goals. Our warm, compassionate psychologists build trusting therapeutic relationships where clients feel safe, heard, and empowered.

Whether you’re coping with anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship problems, or any other mental health concern, our psychologists are here to walk alongside you on your healing journey.

We also recognise the value of an integrated approach and work closely with medical doctors like psychiatrists and GPs to provide comprehensive, coordinated care when needed. Our priority is crafting a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.


Armed with an understanding of the differences between psychologists and psychiatrists, you can make informed choices to find the right provider for your mental health needs.

If you’re ready to actively invest in your mental health, we encourage you to reach out to Cadence Psychology. Our caring team looks forward to learning about your unique situation, answering any questions, and welcoming you into our practice. The journey to mental health and well-being begins here.

Boost your mental health with Cadence Psychology

Raise the roof on your well-being by contacting one of Cadence Psychology’s child or adult psychologists. We’re not psychiatrists, but when it comes to providing therapy to help create shifts in your life we’ve got you covered!