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Can Psychologists Prescribe Medication? Your Psychology Questions Answered

by | Dec 20, 2022

Psychology is a big topic. The average person won’t typically have a full grasp of what the field is and what psychologists specifically treat. We find the same questions coming up over and over: Can psychologists prescribe medication? What’s the difference between psychology and psychiatry? Which do I need?

To make it all a little easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know.

This blog explains key information regarding psychologists and what their work entails. For personalised mental health advice, contact our ballarat psychology team at Modern Medicine today.

What is a Psychologist?

A psychologist focuses on the science of people – how they behave, how they react, and how they feel. Using a number of different scientifically backed tests and analyses, psychologists primarily work to determine the mental health and underlying well-being of their patients. There isn’t just one type of psychologist, either. Depending on what specific care you need, there are different kinds of psychologists who focus on particular areas of psychology.

Types of Psychologists

While there are several areas of psychology, there are three main categories that each type will fall under. The different areas of psychology determine the environments professionals work in, the types of people or projects they work with, and the type of training they’ve undergone. Here’s a quick rundown of each category of psychology:

Mental Health Psychologists
Psychologists who work as mental health professionals focus their career on treating people who suffer from mental illness or other problems regarding mental health. They might work with people suffering from conditions such as depression or anxiety, and might work in areas such as hospitals, schools, and clinics. Examples of professionals working in this area include counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists.

Applied Psychologists
Applied psychologists essentially take the research and principles of psychology and apply them to real-world environments. They work within big operations and projects, using the foundations of psychology to better improve operations and work toward success. Examples include engineering psychologists, human factors psychologists, and human factors psychologists.

Research Psychologists
This field is precisely what you’d imagine. Research psychologists focus their work on research – studying and experimenting on participants, and researching different areas in psychology. Research psychologists typically work in places such as universities and government agencies.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

Many people will use the terms ‘psychologist’ and ‘psychiatrist’ interchangeably. The fact of the matter is, however, that there are significant differences between these two areas of study. To put it simply, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, while a psychologist isn’t. Their educational backgrounds differ significantly – a psychiatrist will have medical experience and training, while a psychologist will have a doctorate-level qualification, such as a Ph.D. or PsychD. General differences between how the two function include:

  • Training undergone
  • Conditions they can treat
  • Treatments they can offer
  • The process to get an appointment

Conditions Addressed by Psychologists

Psychologists are able to apply their treatments to a wide variety of environments, including hospitals, schools, prisons, businesses, and smaller clinics. Within these services, there is a broad range of conditions that can be treated by a psychologist. Some of the problems you might bring to a psychologist include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Phobias
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse

Treatment Methods – Can Medicine Be Prescribed?

Short answer: No. As we’ve explained, psychologists are not medical doctors. Therefore, unlike psychiatrists, they are unable to prescribe medicine themselves. While a medicinal prescription isn’t offered, psychologists offer various other services to their patients. This includes consultation and diagnosis, as well as natural treatment or referral elsewhere. Psychologists offer mental health support, talk-based therapy, professional advice, and early intervention strategies.

Visit Modern Medicine for Personalised Care

Working with a psychologist can help you to get the support and care that you need. Improving your mental health or addressing ongoing problems can drastically improve your quality of life. You deserve to feel lighter, freer, and happier with the state of your health and well-being.

At Modern Medicine, we believe that the patient should always come first. Our Ballarat psychology services offer holistic, personalised care, working hard to ensure that every patient receives a treatment tailored entirely to them and their individual needs. If you’re looking for a psychologist you can trust with your care, we’re ready to take your call. Book an appointment today for a mental health consultation.


Sam Balson Modern Medicine

Sam Balson


Sam Balson, Clinical Myotherapist and Director at Modern Medicine, combines his ballet background with expertise in injury rehab and pain management. His dance injuries fuel his passion for helping others achieve pain-free lives.

Sam’s multidisciplinary approach at Modern Medicine prioritises exceptional care and strong client relationships, setting new standards in healthcare.

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