Monday, 3 March 2014


My post about Karina Hansen really got me thinking about the ways in which I have come across psychiatry over the years. First of all I want to state that I have no aversion to psychiatry as a whole. Good psychiatrists are much needed and sought after and I have nothing but praise for their help and treatment of patients experiencing distressing psychiatric conditions.

Before I move on to talking about my own experiences (I will do this in a separate post, otherwise it would be quite an epic post) I thought it best to try to explain the differences between psychiatry, psychology, psychiatrists and psychologists (sorry if that was quite difficult to read.)  I have often been confused by this and I'm sure many others are too. I have used NHS Careers page to help me research this.

Psychiatry- is a medical specialism, concerning the study of mental illness and the many disorders within that bracket. It is a study of how to diagnose a mental illness, the varying symptoms involved and ways to treat and manage these conditions.

Psychiatrist- is a doctor that was earned a medical degree and chosen to specialise in psychiatry. A psychiatrist will be responsible for evaluating and assessing a patients mental health and diagnosing a course of treatment if necessary, which may include committing a patient if they are thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

Psychology- is the study of the human brain. It is not a medical specialism. It involves studying human behaviour and the reasoning behind why we do certain things. The way in which our feelings impact our bodies and our interaction with others. It is most prevalent in the study of child development to assess whether the child is acting, reacting and interacting to certain benchmarks, such as learning to speak one word and progressing to putting several words together.

Psychologist- It is not necessary to have a medical degree to become a psychologist. There are many universities and colleges offering psychology courses and it is a very popular subject. A psychologist is concerned with the way the mind works, usually focusing on work within the mental health sector. We commonly think of them in a counselling role, helping people to cope with difficult situations be they life events or mental health disorders and work on resolving underlying issues affecting a patients mental health.

You may also come across psychotherapy/ psychotherapist's. We had a psychotherapist at the M.E clinic. Psychotherapy can be a talking or more practical based therapy and be done as an individual or as part of a group such as families. It helps people to work through stress and conflict. For example if they are working with children they may use play or arts and crafts to analyse interaction, or issues they cannot vocalise. Analysis is a key feature of psychotherapy. A psychotherapist may have a background in psychiatry or psychology as well as more specialised training.

Hopefully this has cleared up some confusion. If nothing else then at least I have learnt something. Stay tuned for some of my experiences with psychiatry. If you have not done so then please see my post about Karina Hansen and spread the word.

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