Psychologists and psychiatrists have approximately the same number of years of formal training. The basic difference is the kind of training they have received.

Psychiatrists have a degree in medicine like your family physician and then take specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems. They are able to prescribe medication and their fees are covered by the Medical Services Plan. In British Columbia, they are licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.

Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology and specialize in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of human emotion, thought and behaviour. Although they may have training in the use of medication to treat mental illness, in British Columbia they are not able to prescribe medication.

Psychologists are the only professionals qualified to use certain kinds of psychological tests to assess intelligence, psychopathology, and brain dysfunction.

Their fees are covered by private payment, extended medical plans, employee assistance programs, and through government agencies or other special programs. They are licensed by the College of Psychologists of British Columbia.

There are many other kinds of counsellors and helpers who may or may not have training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health issues.

When you choose a psychologist, you can be assured the professional has extensive formal training and supervision in their area of expertise, will adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional standards and is governed and regulated by the College of Psychologists.  

British Columbia Psychological Association