Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, and Psychiatrist: Physical Rehabilitation

If you are in the hospital recovering from surgery, healing from an injury, or being treated for a disabling medical condition, physical rehabilitation may be an important part of your treatment. Physical medicine and rehabilitation (rehab) is a branch of medicine called physiatry.

What is a psychologist?

Psychologists work as part of the rehabilitation team to help meet the emotional, behavioral, and psychological needs of the patient and family. They are not medical doctors and can't prescribe medicine, but have earned a PhD.

Psychologists help:

  • Counsel patients and families during times of stress, grief, and loss

  • Identify strengths and behaviors that can help the patient succeed in rehab

  • Assess and treat for cognitive and behavioral problems, and plan behavior management programs

  • Identify feelings and emotions that may impact recovery on the part of the patient, family, or the rehab team and develop treatment plans to meet the patient's emotional needs

What is a neuropsychologist?

Neuropsychologists are PhD-trained psychologists who specialize in how diseases, injuries, and disorders of the nervous system affect emotions and behaviors. They can help develop treatment plans but can't prescribe medicine.

What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who treat mental health issues. They can prescribe medicine, but may also employ a number of counseling techniques. They are not usually core team members, but are often available on a consulting basis.

All of these specialists may practice in a variety of settings, including the following:

  • Hospitals

  • Inpatient rehab centers

  • Outpatient rehab centers

  • Psychiatric care settings

  • Private practice

  • Community health centers

  • Schools

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