How to Determine if You Need Therapy or Psychiatry

Published On: September 28, 2023|Categories: Mental Health Treatment|
An unrecognizable mid adult woman listens as the cheerful mature adult male counselor gestures and speaks.

When you decide to start seeking help for your mental health, you might be surprised at how many options are out there. While this can feel overwhelming initially, it’s also a good sign because you can find the best for you when you have treatment options.

Whether you’re looking to heal from a specific trauma, manage a mental health condition, or simply want to improve your overall mental health, the care you need is available.

Two phrases you might run into a lot in your search are “psychiatry” and “therapy.” — though these sound similar and some people use them interchangeably, they are different. Both offer unique benefits to an individual and seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist is more common than you might think.

This article will clearly define two different kinds of therapy for mental health.

What is therapy?

A therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has completed at least a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling or another related field, as well as additional training.

Therapists often specialize in working with people who fall within particular age groups or are struggling with specific problem areas (such as marriage or addiction). They typically do not have the legal authority to prescribe medication. 

A therapist’s strengths lie within the various techniques and approaches they use to help individuals safely explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. A mix of strategies and consistent efforts of the client help develop productive and sustainable coping mechanisms for leading healthier, happier lives.

What is psychiatry?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed medical school (so they’ve received over ten years of education) and engaged in additional, specialized training in psychiatry. 

Due to their extensive education and training, psychiatrists can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe medication and provide therapy. They’re typically well-versed in multiple forms of treatment, including psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy and more.

Psychiatrists are beneficial for many reasons, including helping you get to the root of your mental health conditions and having the ability to provide full-spectrum care following the diagnosis.

Therapy vs psychiatry: an overview

Therapy and psychiatry are valuable services within the mental health treatment community but differ in several ways.

While a therapist needs a master’s degree, a psychiatrist must complete medical school.

A therapist can diagnose mental health disorders and provide talk and behavioral support to clients, but only a psychiatrist can write medication prescriptions. 

A person can attend therapy for as few or as many sessions as they would like, but psychiatry is generally a longer-term treatment for people requiring more extensive support.

Which one is right for you?

One of the most common signs that you could benefit from professional mental health care is if your mental issues are starting to impact your job, school and relationships. 

The severity of your symptoms is a determining factor when looking at therapy vs. psychiatry. Milder symptoms, or “fade” in and out, are likely the result of specific triggers in your life that cycle in and out. Working with a therapist to identify your triggers and how best to respond when they arise might be the best option.

If a childhood trauma continues to affect you in the present or a more serious mental health condition that just doesn’t seem to be improving no matter what, it might be time to seek a psychiatrist. They can help you uncover more profound layers of your symptoms, get to the root of these issues and begin healing from them today.

Still unsure which form of mental health care is suitable for you? We’ll work with you to figure it out.

Speak with an advisor today

Pyramid Healthcare provides top-tier, personalized mental and behavioral healthcare to adults ready to reclaim their health and build their most fulfilling lives.

Our multidisciplinary medical team is highly experienced in working with individuals from all walks of life and is dedicated to keeping your comfort and safety as our top priorities. Understanding that each person requires a unique level of care and different types of psychiatric services, we offer various kinds of support to serve you best.

Send us a message or call our team today to speak with one of our qualified advisors and learn more about which type of mental health support is right for you.

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