What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who has expertise in mental health. He will have studied for 6 years training to be a doctor, then worked for at least a year but often longer in general medicine and surgery and after that will have had at least 6 more years of further training in mental health conditions. So he is a specialist in the conditions of mind and brain just as another doctor might be a specialist in disorders of the heart. On top of that many psychiatrists do further specialisation in a specific field such as child and family, older age psychiatry, psychosis, various complex treatments etc.

What are psychiatrists trained to do?

Assess someone’s state of mind
diagnose a mental illness
use a multitude of psychological treatments (see my Services section on the website)
use a range of appropriate medications
be supportive and understanding of a person’s feelings, culture and family background

How do I get to see a psychiatrist ?

Generally your GP will need to refer you and give you a letter describing the particular difficulty you are suffering with. You have to book an appointment to see a psychiatrist. You may need to wait for a while before the first appointment. If you are feeling very unwell, or at risk of self-harm, tell them it’s urgent and they generally fit you in somewhere.

What might the psychiatrist ask you about?

He will ask about the problem which you are concerned with as well as what has happened to you in the past, your family background, your feelings and thoughts as well as details of physical health. These will help him understand more thoroughly your particular situation.

What can you ask the psychiatrist?

Your diagnosis (if any)
How best to help your difficulties
What to do in a crisis or if new problems come up
Guidance about further information like websites, books, self-help groups
Fees and Medicare rebates