"What's the difference between a Social Worker, Psychologist, and Psychiatrist?"
Here is a brief overview.
What is a Social Worker?
Social Workers can work in many environments and provide a variety of services. A master’s level, board certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) can provide psychological therapy in a private practice setting. The LCSW is a Therapist that may specialize in certain areas such as age-related disorders, relationship problems, mood disorders or mental illness. They will use different types of psychological theory structure such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy or Family Systems Therapy, to help you with your problems.
Social Workers may also connect you to community resources, collaborate with other health care services and monitor your progress. Social work is a social science involving the application of social theory and research methods to study and improve the lives of people, groups, and societies. It incorporates and utilizes other social sciences as a means to improve the human condition and positively change society's response to chronic problems.
Social Work is the profession committed to the pursuit of social justice to the enhancement of the quality of life, and to the development of the full potential of each individual, group and community in society. It is unique in that it seeks to simultaneously address and resolve social issues at every level of society and economic status, especially among the poor and sick. Social Workers are concerned with social problems, their causes, their solutions, and their human impacts. They work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
What is a Psychologist?
Practicing psychologists can help with a range of health problems and use an assortment of evidence-based treatments to help people improve their lives. Most commonly, they use therapy (often referred to as psychotherapy or talk therapy). There are many different styles of therapy, but the psychologist will choose the type that best addresses the person’s problem and best fits the patient’s characteristics and preferences.
Some common types of therapy are cognitive, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, humanistic, psychodynamic or a combination of a few therapy styles. Therapy can be for an individual, couples, family or other groups. Some psychologists are trained to use hypnosis, which research has found to be effective for a wide range of conditions including pain, anxiety and mood disorders.
For some conditions, therapy and medication are a treatment combination that works best. For people who benefit from medication, psychologists work with primary care physicians, pediatricians, and psychiatrists on their overall treatment. Three states, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Illinois, have laws allowing licensed psychologists with additional, specialized training to prescribe from a list of medications that improve emotional and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Practicing psychologists are also trained to administer and interpret a number of tests and assessments that can help diagnose a condition or tell more about the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. These tests may evaluate intellectual skills, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, vocational aptitude and preference, personality characteristics and neuropsychological functioning.
A doctoral degree ( Ph.D.) to practice psychology requires at least 4-6 years of full-time study after completing an undergraduate degree.
What is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a physician (a medical doctor--either an MD or a DO) who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, addictive, and emotional disorders.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological disturbance. A psychiatrist has completed medical school (is an M.D. or D.O.) and an additional four or more years of residency training in psychiatry.
People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, or frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing "voices." Or they may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness and hopelessness or anxious feelings that never seem to lift, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.
Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical, laboratory, and psychological tests which, combined with interviews/discussions with patients, help provide a picture of a patient's physical and mental state. Their education and years of clinical training and experience equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses, to evaluate medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with a patient to develop a treatment plan.