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Should You See A Psychologist, Psychiatrist or Therapist?

by Carolyn Lee Apr 22, 2019

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should you see a psychiatrist

Should you see a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist?

We suspect that this question has raised a few eyebrows, prompted chuckles, or comments along the line of “Why do I need to see any of these people, anyway?” 

Let’s challenge that by asking, why not? 

Over the years, we paid significant attention to our physical health, often neglecting to focus on our mental and emotional health – which also add to our overall wellbeing. 

In addition to this, many of us deal with traumas that we are not aware of or equipped to deal with.  

According to the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorder, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.’ * 

Trauma includes but is not limited to; 

  • Sexual assault – any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to. It may involve rape, groping or forced kissing. Non-contact activities such as exposing themselves to you or forcing someone to look at sexual images are included.  
  • Domestic violence – physical violence, sexual violence or emotional abuse between adults in an intimate relationship. This also includes stalking by a current partner or sexual coercion. 
  • Child maltreatment – emotional abuse/psychological mistreatment, physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse involving children.  
  • School violence and community violence – predatory violence or personal conflicts between people who are not family members such as shootings, robbery or rape. 
  • Medical trauma – distressing reactions to invasive medical procedures or conditions that may cause pain, injury or serious illness.  
  • Traumatic loss – death or loss of someone important to an adult or child. This may also include a (catastrophic) natural disaster.  
  • War related traumaPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), violence, and aggression. Includes refugee trauma borne from forced isolation, war violence, terrorism, torture and threat to life.  

This repressed state of mental and emotional turmoil can lead to behavioural problems that affect our relationships with ourselves and others.  

Some symptoms of trauma are flashbacks, persistent feelings of sadness or despair, anger, shame, and feelings of hopelessness and isolation. 

To enjoy good health, it is necessary to understand the value that experts in the fields of psychology and psychiatry can give to help us heal. 

Quick notes 

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in mental health including substance use disorders. They can prescribe medication and guide patients with medication management. They are also qualified to assess the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. ** 

A psychologist is a social scientist trained to process human behaviour and mental processes. They diagnose mental disorders or problems. They usually work with a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication if necessary, for treatment. 

A therapist is an umbrella term used for professionals who are trained and often licensed to offer rehabilitation and treatments for people. A key priority for therapists is to assist patients with understanding their feelings and making decisions to solve problems. Therapists can be social workers, marriage counsellors, life coaches and psychoanalysts among other specialities.  

So, should you book a consultation with a psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist?  

If you have any of the symptoms shared earlier or believe that you are dealing with mental or emotionally damaging issues and need professional help – why not? 

Use this link to check for local mental health experts near you, who can help you with taking care of your mental health. 


Sources: Teach Trauma, Centre for Anxiety Disorders, Women’s Health, American Psychiatric Association, All Psychology Schools