A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) who specializes in treating mental health conditions. As a doctor, a psychiatrist has the in-depth knowledge to identify specific illnesses or problems based on symptoms a person is experiencing. Because they are doctors, psychiatrists may also legally prescribe medications, as may psychiatric nurse practitioners.
Psychologists, therapists or counselors that are not psychiatrists or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner do not diagnose mental health conditions and cannot prescribe medications. Instead or working in collaboration with a psychiatrist they use other forms of therapy to improve a patient’s symptoms, conditions or diseases.