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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 rehab (rehabilitation) may be an important part of your treatment. Physical medicine and rehab is a branch of medicine called physiatry.

What is a psychologist?

Psychologists work as part of the rehab team. They help meet the emotional, behavioral, and psychological needs of the person and their family. They are not medical providers and can't prescribe medicine. But they have earned a PhD.

Psychologists help:

  • Counsel people and their families during times of stress, grief, and loss

  • Identify strengths and behaviors that can help the person 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 person, their family, or the rehab team. They also create treatment plans to meet the person's emotional needs.

What is a neuropsychologist?

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

What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical providers who treat mental health issues. They can prescribe medicine. But they may also use different types of counseling and other methods. They are not usually core team members. But they are often available on a consulting basis.

All of these specialists may work in many settings, including:

  • Hospitals

  • Skilled nursing or transitional care facilities

  • Inpatient rehab centers

  • Outpatient rehab centers

  • Psychiatric care settings

  • Private practice

  • Community health centers

  • Schools

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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