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What is the Difference Between Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists? Which is Best For Me?

You have decided that some type of counselling will help you deal with something that's happening in your life. The question is where will you seek the help that you need? You hear quite a bit about psychotherapists and psychiatrists, but some people tend to use the terms as if they refer to the same type of mental health professional. In fact, one may be a better choice for your situation than the other. Here are some basics you should know before attempting to find the right professional.

What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor of medicine who specializes in treating individuals with mental health issues. Unlike some other professionals, this type of doctor is trained to identify physical as well as emotional or mental factors that are the causes of the patient's illness. In order to properly diagnose the patient, a psychiatrist has the ability to order all sorts of tests. These include tests that determine the balance of hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients, and other factors that impact cognition, nervous system function, and general mental well-being.

A psychiatrist is also trained in counselling. The scope of the counselling will depend on the reasons for the patient's distress. It may or may not be combined with the use of medication to help the patient through whatever he or she is currently facing. For example, the death of a loved one may be the underlying cause for moderate to severe depression. In this scenario, the psychiatrist may prescribe an antidepressant that the patient will take while undergoing therapy. The hope is that the combination will help the patient eventually move through the grief cycle, from the depression, and be able to move forward with his or her life.

The Work of a Psychotherapist

Psychotherapists are highly trained but focus more on methods that involve the use of counselling and talk therapy rather than including medication and a full range of physical tests. People who are undergoing some sort of serious emotional or mental issue will find that these professionals can often help them sort through whatever is causing the issue.

It's not unusual for other medical professionals to rule out physical causes for the distress before the patient sees this type of therapist. When no physical issue is detected, the psychotherapist offers sessions that provide a safe place for the patient to begin working through whatever is happening.

Psychotherapists can help with grief counseling in Calgary when there is no indication that medication would provide any useful support. They can also provide help when the patient is facing a major decision and is unsure how to proceed. For example, it's not unusual for this type of mental health professional to recover provide support when a patient is attempting to deal with a phobia or some sort and does not know what to do. Approaches like Cognitive Behavior Therapy, carefully employed by the therapist, could be the answer.

A psychotherapist can also offer career counselling in Calgary, especially for those who are having difficulty settling on a career path or have opportunities that they are not sure whether to take.

You are the one who must decide which type of mental health professional will help you find your answers. When there appears to be no physical cause and medication is not indicated, a psychotherapist is like to be an excellent choice. If there are physical as well as mental factors to consider, a psychiatrist would be the most practical strategy.

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Ken is a certified psychotherapist that specializes in a powerful approach called Gestalt Therapy that focuses on building a person's awareness, self-esteem and mind-body connection.

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