What to expect of your psychiatrist?
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medically-qualified practitioner who will have spent 7 years
training as a doctor. He or she will then have worked as a doctor in general
medicine and surgery for at least two years. He or she will then have had at least
6 years of further training in helping people with 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
As well as these 'core' skills, a psychiatrist will specialise and develop skills in
working with the particular problems that affect different groups of people.
a general adult psychiatrist needs to develop skills in talking with people
who have a range of common disorders such as Depression and Anxiety.
How do psychiatrists work?
Psychiatrists sometimes see patients on their own in an out-patient
clinic/practice. More often, they work as part of a team with colleagues from other
professions such as nursing, social work, psychology and occupational therapy.
The team will ask the psychiatrist to see patients, either on their own or with
another member of the team present. The psychiatrist will also work as a
consultant to the team, discussing people's individual mental health needs and
working out how to best manage them.
The psychiatrist will also review patients with other team members in their regular
team review meetings called the Multi-disciplinary Team Meeting or MDT.
How would I get to see a psychiatrist?
Usually your GP will need to refer you.
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, your physical health and current medication. This is so that he or
she can get a thorough understanding of your situation.
What might a psychiatrist recommend?
- Psychological treatments
- Practical ways of dealing with an illness
- Practical ways to stay well
- Ways to get active, see other people and get back to things you like doing.
- Formulated a relapse prevention plan
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
What not to expect from your psychiatrist
A psychiatrist may need to feel your pulse at your wrist, take your blood pressure
or look into your eyes with an opthalmoscope. 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.
• A “special “relationship
• A psychiatrist should not be asking to see you outside normal clinic
hours or when there are no other staff around.
• As with all other doctors, sexual relationships between a psychiatrist
and a patient are completely forbidden.