What is psychiatry?

Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.

What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

What are a psychiatrist’s special skills?

All psychiatrists will learn how to:

  • assess a person's state of mind

  • use the “biopsychosocial” model of understanding. This emphasises the importance of a person's past experiences, family, culture, surroundings and work as well as any medical features.

  • diagnose a mental illness

  • use a range of psychological treatments

  • use a range of medications

  • help a person recover.

How would I get to see a psychiatrist?

Usually, your family doctor will need to refer you. You can also be referred to a psychiatrist by other mental health professionals (like psychologists or mental health therapists).

What might a psychiatrist ask me about?

A psychiatrist will ask you about the problem that has brought you to see them. They may also ask about anything that has happened in your life, your thoughts and feelings and your physical health. This is so that he or she can get a thorough understanding of your situation.

What Treatments Do Psychiatrists Use?

Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, psychosocial interventions and other treatments (such as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), depending on the needs of each patient.

What can I ask the psychiatrist about?

You might want to ask about:

your diagnosis (if any)

how your psychiatrist has made sense of your situation

how best to sort out your problems

your care plan

what to do in an emergency, or even just if your situation changes

information about your diagnosis, treatment or recovery (this might include websites, books or leaflets)

local self-help groups.

What not to expect from your psychiatrist?

Physical examination

A psychiatrist may need to feel your pulse at your wrist or take your blood pressure. He or she will not usually need to do a physical examination for which your clothes need to be removed. Any physical problems that need this should normally be dealt with by your GP. 

Some people believe psychiatrists are immediately 'psychoanalysing' them whenever they meet. This can make people feel under pressure when they meet a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists do not analyse people in this way. Psychoanalysis is only done by specially trained psychotherapists in proper therapeutic setting which a patient has agreed to.

What Is the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (completed medical school and residency) with special training in psychiatry. A psychiatrist is able to conduct psychotherapy and prescribe medications and other medical treatments.

A psychologist usually has an advanced degree, most commonly in clinical psychology, and often has extensive training in research or clinical practice. Psychologists treat mental disorders with psychotherapy and some specialize in psychological testing and evaluation.

Please contact Manor Clinic to discuss services offered by our psychiatrists.