FAQ


Q. What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

A. A psychiatrist has a degree in medicine, while a registered psychologist has a doctoral-level degree in psychology (in the province of Ontario – the degree requirements for registration differ in several provinces).  Doctorate programs typically take five to seven years to complete after Master’s degree and most provinces require an additional one or two year long internship and supervised practice in order to gain licensure.  The title of “psychologist” can only be used by an individual who has completed the above education, training, and provincial licensure.  Psychiatrists are physicians that have specific training in diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists attend medical school and receive an M.D. After finishing their medical training, they also complete an additional four years of residency training in mental health.

There are a few important differences when you consider getting mental health treatment.  Dr. Joti Samara told the Globe and Mail:

-  Psychologists focus on a broad range of causes and contributors to emotional difficulties, including environment and life situations, thinking patterns and styles, personality factors, physiological function, behavioural patterns, and learning  and childhood history. Psychiatrists generally view emotional problems as the result of some abnormality or malfunctioning of the human brain, such as a chemical imbalance.

- Psychologists provide non-medication treatment (or “talk therapy”) focused on helping individuals. Psychiatrists prescribe medication as a primary means of affecting emotional functioning.

Research shows that the combination of psychiatric medications and psychotherapy is most effective in treating some mood disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc.).

Q. Is psychological treatment covered by OHIP?

A. Unfortunately not.  However, most extended health insurance plans cover psychological treatment by registered psychologists.  If you were involved in an accident, you may also be eligible for treatment through applicable insurance plans, such as WSIB, long-term disability insurance, auto insurance plan, etc.

Q. Do I need a doctor’s referral?

A. No, you do not have to get your family physician’s referral to see a psychologist.  You can simply call and make an appointment.

 
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