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The Benefits of Seeing a Therapist and a Psychiatrist

July 12, 2020 Martha Lueck

Some patients who have just been diagnosed with a mood disorder prefer to see a therapist over a psychiatrist or vice versa. However, even though they have differences, both can be beneficial for effective mental health treatment. This blog post will explore their differences and the benefits of seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist.

The Duties of a Therapist and Psychiatrist

Therapists' Duties

Therapists are wonderful listeners and secret-keepers. They let you talk about what you are going through and evaluate what you say so they can help you do things like reframe negative thinking. For instance, if you have been rejected by someone, you might think you did something wrong. A therapist will listen to you say that and ask if you have any proof to know this is a true reason. Then he or she will suggest other possibilities someone rejected you. Many of the possibilities will have nothing to do with you, but with the situation or the rejecter.

Another important thing to know about therapists is that they will not always tell you what you want to hear. Therapists help you challenge your ways of thinking so that you will be able to handle similar distressing situations in healthy ways. Let's use another example. If your child is giving you a hard time, you might think he or she doesn't like you. But a good therapist will tell you that this could be your child's way of asking for attention. In your mind, this might be an insult to your parenting. But it is just a different perspective.

In addition to listening, evaluating your words, and helping you to reframe your thoughts, therapists will sometimes spend full sessions teaching you coping techniques. These techniques might include meditation, grounding, and deep breathing exercises.

That is not an exhaustive list of what therapists have to offer, of course.

Psychiatrists' Duties

Unlike therapists who primarily have conversations with you and teach you coping skills, psychiatrists check up on you to see if your medication is working. Good psychiatrists spend some time talking to you about your personal life because this can impact your treatment. They are ultimately responsible for making sure that you are on the right medication and dosage for your symptoms. While therapist appointments are usually an hour, a psychiatrist appointment typically lasts less than 30 minutes.

As you can see, psychiatrists and therapists have different roles. However, both are equally important for your treatment plan.

My Experience Seeing a Therapist and Psychiatrist

When I started seeing a therapist a long time ago, she recommended that I also see a psychiatrist. The two of them were in the same network and building. I talked to my therapist about my symptoms and the stressful events that I dealt with since our previous session. She asked me if I was using my coping skills and then taught me new ones. Every month, I saw my psychiatrist. She knew when I saw my therapist. Then she made medication adjustments as needed and encouraged me to keep seeing my therapist. By having both a therapist and psychiatrist, I received both medication and talk therapy.

With all the commercials about antidepressants and antipsychotics, so many people get tempted to just turn to a psychiatrist for a pill. But by including therapy in your treatment, you might find that you do not need medication. Or maybe you need it, but you do not as high of a dose. Or maybe seeing both just improves your overall wellbeing.

Do you prefer one over another? What are your views on seeing both a therapist and a psychiatrist? Share your insights and experiences in the comments.

APA Reference
Lueck, M. (2020, July 12). The Benefits of Seeing a Therapist and a Psychiatrist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/toughtimes/2020/7/the-benefits-of-seeing-a-therapist-and-a-psychiatrist



Author: Martha Lueck

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Kate Hansen
August, 4 2020 at 3:21 pm

It was really helpful when you said that they can help you with medication. My sister was telling me last night about how her anxiety has been getting really bad lately, and that she wants to look into seeing if a professional can help her with finding medicine. I'll make sure to pass this information along to her so that she can look into finding a psychiatrist to see.

Lizanne Corbit
July, 12 2020 at 9:28 pm

I think this is a wonderful topic for people to consider. As a psychotherapist, I fully believe in the benefits of talk therapy and sometimes this is enough for individuals, sometimes not. I think what is most important is for people to have all the information about what is available to them and for us to remove the stigma around both talk therapy and psychiatry/medication. Each individual's journey is unique and personal to them, finding the help that is most supportive to you matters most, but I think a combination of the two can be really wonderful for those who need it.

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