I am a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental diseases, just like a cardiologist specializes in the treatment of heart diseases. Psychiatry treatment includes diagnosis, medications if necessary and psychotherapy. I perform medical testing if indicated and admit patients to hospitals like other medical doctors. I can also submit to courts petitions for involuntary treatment. Non-physician psychotherapists and psychologists can only do psychotherapy and not the other functions of mental health assessment, like a physician who specializes in mental disorders can. Most of my patients are very surprised that most mental disorders can be diagnosed and treated very easily. Most of my patients are very surprised that mental health is health.
Dr. Phil is not a psychiatrist. Refer to Wikipedia for a good definition of what a psychiatrist is. Any non-physician psychotherapist discussing medications is practicing beyond the scope of their training. All psychiatrists are trained in all aspects of psychotherapy. In my office and I believe for most psychiatrists, psychotherapy is usually referred to non-physician mental health providers. It’s just plain cheaper. The reality is most people and most insurance plans will not pay $300 or more per hour, per week for a psychiatrist. Honestly, I wouldn’t pay that either. I also believe good psychotherapy can be done with other psychotherapists. I usually relegate myself to making a diagnosis, establishing a treatment plan and referring patients to psychotherapists for goal oriented treatments. These plans are aimed at restoring health and function in the easiest, quickest way possible. This biopsychosocial approach is beyond what non-physician mental health providers can do. Once a treatment plan is started, I make sure all the goals of the treatment plan are achieved to restore health and normal function.
I hope this narrative provides clarification. Next I’ll be posting on how psychiatry treats mental diseases.