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What Is a Psychiatrist? Everything You Need to Know

If you don’t know what a psychiatrist is but you’re interested in becoming one or seeing one, here’s help for you.

A psychiatrist is a doctor who in a specialist in treating mental disorders. As psychiatrists hold medical degrees and they’re trained in practicing psychiatry. They are one of the professionals in the field of mental health who are capable of prescribing medications for treating mental health disorders.

What Is a Psychiatrist

Just as a general physician, a psychiatrist too performs physical exams and orders various types of diagnostic tests that are required for practicing psychotherapy.

Psychiatrists can work as a part and parcel of a mental health team and this often consults with social workers, primary care physicians, psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists.

The Psychiatrists also work with psychologists but you have to remember that the latter aren’t medical doctors and that they can’t prescribe medicines except New Mexico and Louisiana.

Psychiatrists mainly use medicines to treat the symptoms of mental health disorders but they are also allowed to use various kinds of psychotherapy.

Few psychiatrists specialize in a definite area of psychiatry like forensic psychiatry and addiction. Read on to know more on them.

Psychiatrist – What are they?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health. He is a person who understands both mental and physical health issues and they are the ones who tend to highlight the links between them. Psychiatrists should get themselves trained in a medical school before training in psychiatry.

A psychiatrist may diagnose and prescribe medicines to treat different complex mental illness like the following.

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Borderline personality disorder.

Psychiatrists – How are they separate from therapists and psychologists?

Psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists are healthcare professionals who treat various mental health conditions. The ultimate difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist is their medical training. A psychiatrist is a medical health professional who has got a separate training in psychiatry.

In most of the United States, it is just a psychiatrist who can prescribe medicines in health conditions. In few other states, a psychologist can be able to prescribe few medicines post the completion of their additional training.

Psychologists are allowed to use various types of psychotherapy for treating mental health conditions. For instance, there is a technique called CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through which they help people change their behaviors and thought patterns and improve the way they feel.

Another type of talk therapy includes psychodynamic therapy. This therapy can need the client to discuss all his past experiences which may have a strong influence on the present. The sharing of these experiences may lead to a greater insight into the present feelings and symptoms.

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

A clinical psychologist is a kind of psychotherapist who received his doctorate in the field of clinical psychology. Do they have a ‘Dr.’ as their title and also have a Psy.D or Ph.D after their name? If yes, this too indicates that they don’t have a qualification in medicine. Psychologists can easily conduct assessments and also psychotherapy.

Psychologists check people with mental health conditions and who have symptoms like.

  • Depression
  • Behavioral issues.
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulties in assessment of learning.

Psychologists and psychiatrists often work with each other to treat mental health disorders. Both these professionals can work in a mental health tea, at a community mental health clinic or at a hospital.

Therapists are the other kind of psychotherapists who also carry the right to use psychotherapy for treating emotional and mental health conditions.

The professionals like marriage and family therapists (MFTs), licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are included within the realm of therapists. They are also called psychotherapists who need a specific license to practice.

A psychotherapist can use different techniques for treating people and they may also specialize in a definite area. Their therapies include.

  • Family and couples therapy.
  • Animal-assisted therapy where animals like horses and dogs can offer treatment.
  • Play therapy that can motivate children to talk and express themselves through pretend play.
  • Creative arts therapy which may use dance, art, music or drama.

Conditions treated by Psychiatrists

A psychiatrist is able to treat a wide range of mental health disorders among which few include.

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleeping problems and insomnia.
  • Addictions like drugs, gambling, alcohol.
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Violent outbursts
  • Obsession thoughts.
  • Thoughts of hurting others.
  • Negative thinking.
  • Feeling on edge, not being able to relax and feeling agitated.
  • Hyperactivity
  • Incapability to concentrate.
  • Severe stress, anxiety and worry.
  • Body image issues.
  • Delusional thinking.
  • Memory issues
  • Neurodevelopment disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum disorder.

Psychiatrists – What are the types?

A psychiatrist can have a definite area of expertise. Nevertheless, few of the subcategories of psychiatry include the following.

  • Young adult psychiatry.
  • Adolescent and child psychiatry.
  • Perinatal psychiatry that focuses on problems which appear during pregnancy and the post the antenatal year.
  • Addiction psychiatry.
  • Geriatric psychiatry that concentrates on older adults.
  • Forensic psychiatry that addresses the mental health within the legal system and that works with people who already have a criminal record.

Education needed to become a psychiatrist

In order to become a psychiatrist in the US, a person requires training himself for 4 years at the medical school. As they pass the final examination (written), they get a license to practice medicine.

Post this training, the person will train for 4 years in psychiatric residency. Initially, he will include training like outpatient, inpatient and emergency room situations.

To become a psychiatrist certified by the board, you have to complete an oral and written examination from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. All psychiatrists need to go through recertification every 10 years.

There are different types of psychiatrists as seen on BetterHelp. If you seem to be interested in becoming a psychiatrist, you should keep in mind all the above mentioned facts.

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About the author

Arpita Patel

Arpita Patel is an active tech and food blogger. She has Masters degree in computer science from Mumbai University. She has contributed a number of great and informative articles to the internet. Apart from blogging she loves music, movies, outdoor games, cycling and helping people.