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Whats the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

(42 Posts)
rebl Mon 28-Mar-11 11:14:42

My ds is currently being assessed by CAMHS for behaviour and sleep issues. So far he's been observed at school and home by the Clinical Psychologist and Team manager. We've now been sent an appointment for him to see the Consultant Child Psychiatrist.

So what does the consultant child psychiatrist do that the clinical psychologist doesn't do?

tabulahrasa Mon 28-Mar-11 11:19:55

not a lot tbh, lol

psychiatrists are doctors who then specialize in mental health, psychologists only study psychology

psychiatrists can medicate so they tend to deal with things like ADHD where psychologists usually deal with developmental disorders

but they overlap loads

rebl Mon 28-Mar-11 11:27:01

So why does he need to see the psychiatrist when he's been seeing the psychologist? We've not had any dx yet. I'm quite confused. I like to know why we're seeing people and understand it before we do see them but this I don't understand.

MADABOUTTHEBOY2000 Mon 28-Mar-11 11:54:51

not much only that a psychiatrist has medical training also so basically they are like doctors as they have to go to med school first before specialising in it where as a psycologist has a degree in just that iyswim. psycologist helps people learn how to deal with things helping them to change behaviours where as a psychiatrist does much the same but perhaps rather than physical reasons for behaviour will look at their being outside influences causing the problems or possible mental health reasons but both can prescribe if needed , i dont think ive explained that very well i know in my head lol what i mean hope you do smile

IndigoBell Mon 28-Mar-11 12:03:10

I think a consultant child psychiatrist will be able to dx whereas normally a clinical psychologist can't.

Also psychiatrists can prescribe drugs which psychologists can't - but that's not normally the reason you're referred.

tabulahrasa Mon 28-Mar-11 12:11:03

I don't know how it works in different areas - but here, they split things

so my son saw a clinical psychologist because he was being assessed for Asperger's, at one point they wanted to assess him for ADHD and that would have been with a psychiatrist - even though he was already being seen by a psychologist because ADHD is counted as a psychiatric disorder rather than a neurological one (even though as it turns out it probably is neurological, lol)

I don't know what else they split between them like that, but it'll be to assess for things that the psychologist doesn't deal with

basically they specialize in different conditions and while they overlap a lot and will have experience with both but ultimately one can diagnose one lot of disorders and the other another lot

rebl Mon 28-Mar-11 13:08:39

So I should take this as a positive step? Not one of they haven't got a clue and there isn't anything wrong and its just parents being worriers? We're so cynical of professionals now over ds's behaviour because so many have brushed our concerns away. Now that CAMHS are involved we're worried they're just going to blame us and say we've screwed him up through bad parenting or something or that there is absolutely nothing wrong and its all a figment of our imaginations. Totally uneasy when it comes to professionals, especially when we don't understand fully what they are doing and where everything is heading.

But then we saw the GP about a seperate issue last week and he said that now that ds was nearly 5 he felt it was time to talk to us about ds's behaviour (as ds was trashing his consulting room as per usual). When I said I was doing my best he immediatly said he didn't mean that at all and that DS really wasn't behaving in a normal way and needed assessment and did I want a referal to CAMHS. Told him that we were now under CAMHS and he said good and that we weren't to think ds's problems were in any part down to our parenting skills. Made me feel better but still we worry and now another new professional is involved who doesn't know us or ds yet will make judgements on us and we're just not comfortable.

tabulahrasa Mon 28-Mar-11 13:50:54

'Not one of they haven't got a clue and there isn't anything wrong and its just parents being worriers?'

well if they thought that, they wouldn't waste appointments, lol, no but seriously - they don't keep assessing a child if they think there's nothing going on other than parenting, don't worry about that at all

IndigoBell Mon 28-Mar-11 13:52:54

Take it as a positive step. There is no way the clinical psychologist would refer DS to a consultant psychiatrist if they thought it was bad parenting (they would refer you to a parenting course.)

And there's no way the GP would tell you 'there's something that needs to be assessed and it's not your parenting' if it wasn't.......

The psychiatrist is used to dealing with SN kids, and knows what to look for grin

Other well meaning people / specialists aren't specialists in these types of disorders and don't know what they are seeing.....

cornsilk678 Mon 28-Mar-11 16:19:29

which would be more likely to dx ASD?

tabulahrasa Mon 28-Mar-11 17:03:53

psychologist usually, or paediatrician

IndigoBell Mon 28-Mar-11 17:09:23

We were dx by a paed, and the psych wouldn't see us for ASD because it wasn't her area.....

But basically, what I've learnt from this board, is it is totally dependent on your area. There don't actually seem to be any hard and fast rules.

Ineedalife Mon 28-Mar-11 17:38:14

In my area, they are referring lots of children to CAMHS for possible ASD's simply because they haven't got enough community paeds do do the work.

This means that CAMHS is overloaded with children who don't necessarily need to be there.

tabulahrasa... you bought back a memory for me when you said you GP had decided to help you because your DS was trashing his office.

I had exactly that experience with a paediatrician who had been assessing my DD1 for food intolerances and asthma nearly 20 years ago.

rebl Mon 28-Mar-11 20:17:45

After all the knock backs and professional comments we've listened too over the last few years we are cynical. But you are all right, the psychologist wouldn't have referred to the psychiatrist if they thought it was parenting or there was nothing wrong.

I really hate going to appointments without a clue as to the motive of it, or and idea of the direction of where its going. We've had some horrible surprises over the last 5 years when we've gone to appointments "blind". The 1st one being that ds was severely deaf, didn't see that coming from a mile off and so its continued. I don't cope well with surprises.

IndigoBell Mon 28-Mar-11 21:00:04

Ok, well I can't remember all the details about DS, so don't take it the wrong way, but I assume they're assessing him for something like ASD or ADHD or something of that nature.

I'm fairly sure from what I remember of your posts, and your comment from the GP, that his behaviour is not just to do with him being deaf, there is something else going on.

ASD is a very wide spectrum......

rebl Mon 28-Mar-11 21:57:04

IndigoBell We've not been told exactly what they are assessing him for but yes, our assumption is ASD or ADHD or something of that nature. I think its the fact they've not actually told us what they're thinking is what is bothering me. They are specialist deaf CAMHS. They specialise in seperating deaf issues away from other issues so we're confident they're the right team. He was referred because of his behaviour and sleep issues. I've done loads of reading on ASD, ADHD and SPD. All these have been mentioned to us but I'm not 100% sure on any of them. They could I suppose come back and say its all down to the deafness. I just pray they're going to give us help. But a psychologist would have been able to say that surely? But its the psychologist whose refered to the psychiatrist.

DH says we just go with the flow now and if we get a dx we get them to justify it to us so we can understand it better. Equally if there is no dx we ask for them to explain why and what they are advising we do about ds. He says however we look at it we're desperate for help now and it doesn't actually matter what label he does or doesn't have he does have behavioural and sleep problems that we can't sort out without the right help and that help isn't in the form of a Webster Stratton Course (yes, we've been sent on one of those by HV 18 months ago, made no difference), school nurse, teacher, GP or general paed.

PipinJo Mon 28-Mar-11 23:11:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PipinJo Mon 28-Mar-11 23:16:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cornsilk678 Tue 29-Mar-11 10:18:41

pipin - sorry I'm confused (doesn't take much ) - so a psychiatrist can dx ASD but a psychologist can't?

PipinJo Tue 29-Mar-11 11:01:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cornsilk678 Tue 29-Mar-11 11:32:56

sorry still confused confused
So a psychiatrist can assess but needs someone else to make the official dx?

rebl Tue 29-Mar-11 12:10:40

I'm confused as well. My ds needs dx and I should think medication for sleep considering nothing else has worked.

rebl Tue 29-Mar-11 12:20:15

I think pipinjo is saying that a child psychologist can dx asd but not medicate and that a clinical psychologist can't dx asd. My ds has so far been seen by a clinical psychologist. So pipinjo is saying that this lady can't dx. My ds is going to see a child psychiatrist who is a medically trained dr who CAN dx and px.

I'm getting the impression that in a lot of areas the child psychiatrist does not dx asd and that is done by the child psychologist. We don't have a child psychologist so I'm guessing that's why we're going to the child psychiatrist.

I'm not sure though, pipinjo is that what you're saying?

Its hardly surprising no one has a clue is it? They seem to do such similar things but not and it seems to change from area to area. I'm surprised they know what they do!! At least if you're seeing a brain surgeon you know that they're not going to chop your leg off, its in the title!

intothewest Tue 29-Mar-11 12:23:43

ds saw a clinical psyc (as part of a diagnostic team) for an asd observation for dx -sorry if that's muddied the waters !

MADABOUTTHEBOY2000 Tue 29-Mar-11 13:36:44

lol@ intothewest i get what you mean, my ds saw the child psyc as part of the diagnostic team too but the "oficial DX" came from the child paed

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