6 things you should know before seeing a psychiatrist

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Making the decision to see a psychiatrist is brave. It means you recognize you need help, and that is okay because you are not alone. One in four people have some form of a mental health issue that needs to be dealt with by a medical professional.اضافة اعلان

The difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a therapist
Mental health specialists carry different degrees and credentials. Before seeking a professional, it is important to learn the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a therapist.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. They prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy.  However, there are psychiatrists who do not engage in psychotherapy. Generally, a psychologist or therapist is seen for psychotherapy sessions and a psychiatrist is seen when medication is necessary.

A psychologist is a mental health professional who in order to become a licensed clinical psychologist needs an undergraduate degree (four to five years of college) plus a doctorate in psychology (four to seven years of graduate school).  Psychologists are able to perform psychotherapy, but they cannot prescribe medication.

A therapist gives psychotherapy sessions. These professionals are also often referred to as psychotherapists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. A therapist is required to have a bachelor’s degree in his/her field of study.

Areas of expertise

Psychiatrists are trained in all aspects of mental health so they are able to offer support and guidance in all areas. Furthermore, because psychiatrists are highly skilled in medication management, they may have more insight into more complex mental health issues than psychologists or therapists.  Therefore, seeing a psychiatrist for psychotherapy and for medication management has great benefits to the patient.

Psychiatrists have a variety of areas in which they specialize, such as child psychiatry, adult ADD/ADHD, women’s health issues, geriatric psychiatry, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder as well as panic disorder.

Are they easy to communicate with?

You need to make sure you are comfortable speaking with your psychiatrist, otherwise therapy will not be as effective. The psychiatrist you choose should be easy to talk to and knowledgeable in helping you understand your feelings. Your psychiatrist will not judge you and will always keep the information you give him confidential.

What are their fees, and are they in network for insurance?

When choosing a psychiatrist, it is important to learn about the fees charged and the type of insurance accepted, if any. You could be financially responsible for your sessions if the psychiatrist does not accept your insurance or is an out-of-network practice. Be sure you are fully informed of the fees charged to avoid surprises.

What is the psychiatrist’s approach?

It is important to find out the psychiatrist’s approach is when speaking with patients and prescribing medications. It is also good to find out how often you will be meeting with the psychiatrist.

The approach varies from psychiatrist to psychiatrist so it is important to understand what you need when looking for a professional. Some psychiatrists simply want to hear how your medication works and leave it at that. Others, however, are interested in how therapy is progressing and how the medication is helping.

There are psychiatrists who also participate in the psychotherapy themselves, which eliminates the need for a therapist.

Does the psychiatrist offer psychotherapy?

Most psychiatrists do not accept to participate in psychotherapy sessions. It is important to find out if psychotherapy is available and/or required in order to obtain medication. If you seek a psychiatrist who participates in psychotherapy, find out who is willing to do that.

Keep in mind that psychotherapy appointments may be kept separate from initial medication-seeking appointments and regular medical checks. If these sessions are not combined, you will be looking at a few appointments per month. Speak with the psychiatrist to find out if these appointments, if separate, can be combined to help save time and money.

How easy is it to schedule appointments with your doctor?

During your initial phone call to psychiatrists, be sure to ask about appointment times and scheduling procedures. Many psychiatrists tend to overbook, leaving patients waiting and rushing through appointments.
You also need to find out about the cancellation policy, as it varies from office to office. Some psychiatrists require a 24-hour notice to cancel your appointment.

The writer is a doctor in psychiatry who specializes in adult psychiatry.

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