PTSD Treatment Should You See a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist to Treat Your PTSD? By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD Twitter Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 18, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Tom Merton / Getty Images There are a number of different types of treatment providers that can diagnose and treat PTSD, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. Learn how to distinguish between these two to determine which professional is right for you. Psychologist Training and Qualifications Psychologists are people who have either a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) in a field such as clinical or counseling psychology. In some cases, a psychologist may have an EdD (Doctor of Education). To get a PhD, PsyD, or EdD, a person must go to graduate school. Graduate programs in clinical or counseling psychology usually last about five to six years. During that time, psychologists receive extensive training in the assessment and treatment of various psychological disorders. In meeting with a psychologist, you want to first make sure he is licensed by the state in which he is practicing. You may also want to ask about his professional orientation. It can also be important to ask about his training and area of expertise to make sure he's a good fit for you. Depending on the type of training received, each psychologist is going to have his own beliefs and ideas about the origins of psychological disorders and how to treat them. These beliefs and ideas are generally referred to as an "orientation." Moreover, don't forget the importance of having a personal connection with a mental health provider. Even if a psychologist is perfectly qualified doesn't mean he is the right provider for you. The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Psychiatrists Training and Qualifications Psychiatrists are people who have an MD (Doctor of Medicine) that have decided to specialize in the treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists have been to medical school and have completed a residency in psychiatry. Like psychologists, psychiatrists also receive extensive training in the assessment and treatment of various psychological disorders. They are also going to have their own beliefs and ideas about the origins of psychological disorders and how to treat them. Many, although definitely not all, psychiatrists may follow a biological or disease model of mental illness. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication. Other Types of Mental Health Professionals Some mental health professionals are not called "doctor." These mental health professionals may have a master's degree in social work, clinical psychology or counseling psychology. These individuals have also received training in the assessment and treatment of psychological disorders. As with other mental health professionals, you will want to ask about their professional orientation, training, and expertise and whether or not they are licensed to practice. Individuals with a master's degree who are licensed to treat psychological disorders will often have LCSW follow their name. This stands for "licensed clinical social worker." Questions to Ask a New Therapist Which Type of Mental Health Provider Is Best? There really is no good answer to this question. The mental health professional that is best is the one who best fits your needs. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the person you are meeting with. Do you agree with their treatment approach? Treatment requires sharing a lot of personal information with someone. Make sure that you trust and feel comfortable with the person you are meeting with. How PTSD Is Treated By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for PTSD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.