Both psychotherapy and psychiatry are concerned with treating mental health disorders. However, they differ in their approaches. Each field is committed to helping people stay mentally well. Patients need to understand the differences to choose the right treatment option for better mental health. Therapists and psychiatrists are both concerned with how they can best help you.
Psychotherapy vs Psychiatry
Psychotherapy is conducted by a therapist, which can be a licensed counselor or psychologist. Therapy sessions can also be held by a social worker, psychotherapist, or psychoanalyst. In therapy, the patient confides in the mental health professional about recent stresses at home or work. There is a focus on behavioral changes and teaching the patient how to cope with life’s stressors. A therapist may utilize motivational or behavioral techniques to reflect a patient’s thoughts to them. The open dialogue created by psychotherapy can instruct patients in developing coping skills for mental health issues.
Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and have attended medical school. These professionals also will have completed a residency and gained an MD or DO. Most psychiatrists do not offer therapy; their responsibility is to make decisions regarding medication for mental health disorders. Some psychiatrists issue referrals for therapists to patients.
Understand the Differences
For you or your loved ones, it is important to understand the differences between psychotherapy and psychiatry. When choosing the proper treatment option, you will want to ensure that your needs are met. Someone dealing with stress at work, school, or home would be better beginning with talk therapy. In contrast, a patient experiencing more distressing psychological issues that disrupt their daily life may benefit more from discussing options for medication with a psychiatrist. The severity of the state of the individual’s mental health is paramount to consider when recommending a tailored treatment plan.
Another aspect of choosing between a psychiatrist or therapist is that some patients may be suited to a combination of the two. Many people have regular therapy sessions while meeting with a psychiatrist and taking prescribed medication. A blend of the two treatments can hasten a return to a healthier state of mind. All options should be considered when choosing psychotherapy, psychiatry, or both. Every person is different and requires unique standards for their treatment.
Areas of Focus
Methods of Psychotherapy
The focus of psychotherapy is on conversations between the patient and licensed professional. Confidentiality prevents the therapist from sharing details of what is discussed in the session with anyone. The session’s structure will differ depending on what technique the therapist uses. Some will involve the patient explaining issues affecting them while the therapist repeats their statements back to them, and summarizes for reflection purposes. Other techniques may see the therapist listen and then ask probing questions to the person, which leads them to view their problems in a new light.
After listening and understanding the problems affecting their patient, the therapist can assign tasks to encourage behavioral changes. These tasks could involve progressive exposure to stimuli that cause the patient distress, adhering to a new routine, or writing a letter to someone important in their life to express themselves. Effective dialogue is where psychotherapy focuses so the patient can consider a new mental perspective.
Methods of Psychiatry
Psychiatry focuses on treating the patient’s mental health issues by prescribing medication. Complications with mental health disorders that prevent patients from living comfortably or brain chemistry can be dealt with through psychiatry. Methods of a psychiatrist include discussing the current issues faced by the patient and deciding what combination of medications would be best for treatment. A psychiatrist will create a plan to tackle the mental health disorder. In appointments of psychiatry, the professional is a qualified graduate of medical school that has a vast knowledge of what medications will be best for your needs. If a prescription has complicated side effects or is not effective for you, the psychiatrist will adjust their plan and try out different medications to find the best one.
Psychiatry vs Psychotherapy
So what is the difference between psychotherapy and psychiatry? Psychotherapy attempts to change behavior through dialogue, while psychiatry treats mental health disorders medically. Psychiatry and psychotherapy can work together to form one treatment plan or be used separately depending on your needs and conditions.
Difference Between Psychotherapy and Psychiatry
Some patients will be better suited to talk therapy with a licensed therapist or counselor, while others will need more medical help from a psychiatrist who can prescribe mental health medications. A therapist must discuss emotions and events in the patient’s life with them. However, psychiatrists are required to find the best medication for their patients – therapy is not a part of their duties.
Psychotherapy or Psychiatry
The best way to decide if psychotherapy or psychiatry is the best treatment option for you or your loved one is by addressing what the roots of your condition are. Is it an ongoing mental health disorder that keeps you from living life the way you want to, or is the problem a temporary one that you will have to cope with? Another main consideration would be what you ultimately desire to gain from treatment. Not every patient will be comfortable with medication; these are decisions that are up to the individual.
In the realm of psychiatry, sometimes psychotherapy is not sufficient to address every aspect of a mental health disorder. In those situations, a therapist will likely refer you to a psychiatrist.