1. What Is Psychiatry?
Psychiatry is a specialist branch of medicine concerned with helping patients and their families achieve mental and emotional well-being through the use of “existing therapy” counseling, psychotherapy, patient and family education and medication.
2. Why See a Psychiatrist?
It is just as important to see a psychiatrist about any Interpersonal, emotional and mental problem as it is to see any doctor about physical problems.
Many people and families experience problems similar to yours. Such problems affect people in different ways. Some people get a stomach ulcer, or high blood pressure. Others get anxious and depressed or may have a “nervous breakdown”. These psychological symptoms often upset the person who is experiencing them and may interfere with the person’s ability to lead a satisfying life.
3. Who Sees a Psychiatrist?
Most of the patients seen in this office often do not have very severe symptoms, some have no symptoms at all. So you do not have to feel self conscious about seeing a psychiatrist.
Symptoms are most often associated with stress, or burnout, anxiety, depression, sickness etc.. These often stem from marital and other family problems, problems at the work place and at school, problems in relating to people and other types of difficulties in adjustment to life and to one’s self.
For those who have had a more severe illness due to a chemical imbalance it is quite possible to make a recovery, experience wellness and to function productively in society!
On the Educational Topics page of this website you may access information on the various conditions that I treat.
4. Psychiatry Works!
No matter what your problems or symptoms are, you can be helped in some way. The effectiveness of your recovery will depend on four factors:
- understanding and accepting your challenging situation or your illness,
- a willingness to help yourself with your doctor’s assistance,
- attending sessions regularly and taking your medication as prescribed,
- letting your doctor know of any problems with psychotherapy, medications and the other services that you receive at the centre.
It is good that you have decided to do something about your problem at this stage. This investment of time, effort and self-discipline in your therapy will enable you to make the type of adjustment to living that you wish.
5. Types of Treatment
Individual psychotherapy involves regularly scheduled sessions between the patient and a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker, or psychiatric nurse. The goal of this treatment is to help consumers understand why they are acting and thinking in ways that are troubling or dangerous to themselves or others so they have more control over their behaviours and can correct them.
Talk-therapy sessions may focus on a patient’s current or past problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings, or relationships. By sharing experiences with a trained, knowledgeable, and understanding person–by talking about the patient’s world with someone outside it–people with mental illnesses may gradually understand more about themselves and their problems.
Individual psychotherapy is used successfully to help persons to come to terms with issues such as social relationships, work, marriage, sexuality and career concerns. It also addresses emotional, behavioural and social problems.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people learn to change inappropriate or negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with their illness. The goal is to recognize negative thoughts or mind-sets (mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, reasoning, decision making, and problem solving) and replace them with positive thoughts, which will lead to more appropriate and beneficial behavior. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy tries to replace thoughts that lead to low self-esteem (“I can’t do anything right”) with positive expectations (“I can do this correctly”). Combined with effective medication, CBT can successfully treat people with depression, anxiety disorders as well as AD/HD and several more serious psychiatric disorders.
A type of behavioral therapy known as exposure therapy or exposure and response prevention is very useful for treating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and specific phobias (e.g. social phobia). During exposure therapy, a patient is deliberately exposed to whatever triggers the obsessive thoughts or reaction to a previous traumatic experience under controlled conditions. The patient is then taught techniques to avoid performing the compulsive rituals or avoidance behaviour or to work through the trauma.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the relationships a person has with others. The goal of interpersonal therapy is, of course, to improve interpersonal skills. The therapist actively teaches patients to evaluate their interactions with others and to become aware of self-isolation and difficulties getting along with, relating to, or understanding others. He or she also offers advice and helps patients make decisions about the best way to deal with other people.
Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
In psychodynamic therapy individuals are helped to discover the roots of their concerns in childhood traumas. In later life memories of these traumas can lead to anxiety about recurrence in the context of current relationships. The therapist can help such person gain insight as to how related unconscious conflict, anxiety and defence mechanisms contribute to symptoms and personality problems.
Benefits of individual psychotherapy include improved interpersonal relationships, stress reduction, improved self-esteem, improved coping skills in dealing with difficult situations, and a deeper insight into your personality, your development, your habits, and relationships. With that insight, comes the capacity to change.
Couples, Family & Group Psychotherapies
Psychotherapy is also provided for couples and families. Here it is not merely individuals who become the centre of psychotherapy but the couple and family relationships respectively. In group psychotherapy persons can become more aware of their interpersonal responses and group members can assist each other’s growth. These therapies relate to personal growth. They also deal with crises and special problems, as well as providing education about various illnesses and life situations and how to deal with them.
In several cases a patient will receive a combination of individual and couple/family or group psychotherapies.
Therapists offer several different types of psychotherapy. In general no one type of therapy is necessarily “better” than another type. When deciding which therapy (or therapies) will likely be the most successful treatment option for an individual , a psychotherapist considers the nature of the problem to be treated and the patient’s personality, cultural and family background, and personal experiences. Sometimes aspects of different therapies can be integrated to fit a patient’s particular profile.
Psychoeducation involves teaching people about their illness, how to treat it, and how to recognize signs of relapse so that they can get necessary treatment before their illness worsens or occurs again. Family psychoeducation includes teaching coping strategies and problem-solving skills to families (and friends) of people with mental illnesses to help them deal more effectively with their ill relative. Family psychoeducation reduces distress, confusion, and anxieties within the family, which may help the patient recover.
Pscyhoeducation in combination with medication has been used successfully to treat people with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as to help their loved ones.
iii. Referral to Self-Help & Support Groups
Self-help and support groups for people and families dealing with mental illnesses are becoming increasingly common. Although not led by a professional therapist, these groups may be therapeutic because members give each other ongoing support. These groups also are comforting because ill people learn that others have problems similar to theirs.
Members of support groups share frustrations and successes, referrals to qualified specialists and community resources, and information about what works best when trying to recover. They also share friendship and hope for themselves, their loved ones, and others in the group.
Groups may also help families work together to advocate for needed research and treatments and for better hospital and community programs. And when consumers patients act as a group rather than individually, they are often more effective in the fight against stigma and more successful at drawing public attention to abuses such as discrimination.
Anyone can develop a mental illness—you, a family member, a friend, or a neighbour. Some disorders are mild; others are serious and long-lasting. These conditions can be diagnosed and treated. Most people can live better lives after treatment. For most persons psychotherapy may be enough to help them achieve wellness. Nevertheless, psychotherapeutic medications are an increasingly important element in the successful treatment of psychological illness. They also may make psychotherapy more effective. Someone who is too depressed to talk, for instance, may have difficulty communicating during psychotherapy or counselling, but the right medication may improve symptoms so the person can respond. For many patients, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can be an effective method of treatment.
Scientists have learned much more about the workings of the brain as a result of their investigations into how psychotherapeutic medications relieve the symptoms of disorders such as psychosis, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.
Just as aspirin can reduce a fever without curing the infection that causes it, psychotherapeutic medications act by controlling symptoms. Psychotherapeutic medications do not cure mental illness, but in many cases, they can help a person function despite some continuing mental pain and difficulty coping with problems.
Like any medication, psychotherapeutic medications do not produce the same effect in everyone. Some people may respond better to one medication than another. Some may need larger dosages than others do. Some have side effects, and others do not. Age, sex, body size, body chemistry, physical illnesses and their treatments, diet, and habits such as smoking are some of the factors that can influence a medication’s effect.
You and your family can help your doctor find the right medications for you. The doctor needs to know your medical history, other medications being taken, and life plans such as hoping to have a baby. After taking the medication for a short time, you should tell the doctor about favourable results as well as side effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and professional organizations recommend that the patient or a family member ask the following questions when a medication is prescribed:
What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
- How and when do I take it, and when do I stop taking it?
- What foods, drinks, or other medications should I avoid while taking the prescribed medication?
- Should it be taken with food or on an empty stomach?
- Is it safe to drink alcohol while on this medication?
- What are the side effects, and what should I do if they occur?
- What can happen if I stop taking my medications suddenly?
6. Stages of your Treatment
Psychiatry and psychotherapy begins with a Whole Person initial assessment, where an effort is made to work with you in determining the nature of your symptoms and problems and the best method of approach in coping with them. The initial assessment session would involve crisis intervention or early treatment for someone who is having distressing symptoms. Afterwards there will be ongoing follow-up treatment for Whole Person growth and maintenance of wellness. Therapy will include a wholistic treatment plan and regular Whole Person evaluation which will be discussed with you periodically.
i. Number of Interviews
ii. Crisis Intervention
In some cases, no further treatment is necessary after the initial assessment and crisis intervention, or, there may be one or two follow-up sessions if the problem is a mild one.
iii. Brief Psychotherapy
In most cases, therapy takes between four to ten interviews – usually about six. This works well for motivated persons willing to grow and learn about themselves.
iv. Long-Term Psychotherapy – Lasting for a Few Years
This may be needed where the problem is more lasting, especially in cases of personality problems and severe marital or family problems.
v. Long-Term Medication Management
If you are at risk for repeated nervous breakdowns, you may need to receive psychotherapy and medication long period of time or on an ongoing basis so as to prevent relapses.
7. The Contract
For short-term psychotherapy, a special contract can be established between yourself and your therapist as to treatment goals and number of sessions. This contract can be reviewed over time.