psychiatrists and psychologists
May 7, 2005 7:59 AM   Subscribe

What are the differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

My partner has some anger management issues that are currently affecting our relationship, and it's gotten to a point where we both agree some therapy might be helpful. It's not a major problem, and is probably best described as an irrational temper tantrum, and is never violent or directed at me, but it's affecting the way we interact with each other.

When it comes to getting help though, I'm a little stumped as I'm unfamiliar with the world of The Shrink. This page gives me a pretty good explanation, but I honestly wouldn't know where to start to choose someone who would be right for my partner (and myself, if the need arose to attend a session together). Does he go to our GP first for a referral, or would he be better off ringing around and talking directly to the clinics?

I'm in Australia, if that helps to modify your answer. Suggestions for the Brisbane area would sure be handy. Any first-hand accounts of how people have used psychologists/psychiatrists to deal with their anger management would also be welcomed.
posted by chronic sublime to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
At the most general level, psychiatrists are medical doctors in addition to their clinical training and, psychologists typically have M.A's or Ph.D's in clinical psychology or cognitive therapy.

I would start with a psychologist to determine whether the issues are behavioral or hormonal (chemical), and then rely on a referral to a psychiatrist in the event the meds are necessary to treat the disorder. Typically, a psychiatrist would advise you of the same if your partner is new to treatment.

In my experience, I have gone to psychiatrists before and their eagerness to proscribe medication made me feel a bit leery, at least in the U.S., where everyone seems to be on some sort of anti-anxiety medication. Regardless of whether your partner starts with a shrink or a therapist, whomeover s/he goes to first, s/he has to feel comfortable with his/her approach to treating mental disorders, so it is advisable to talk to a few before settling on a therapist.
posted by psmealey at 8:10 AM on May 7, 2005

Psychiatrists can prescribe meds...and for this reason, tend to view the world through meds.

Psychologists have to either work without meds or work with a GP who will provide. This also colors their perceptions about methods that work best.

I mention this as some conditions are treated best by meds.

But here is the Austrailian psychologists homepage.

Here in the states - how you see a given practitioner has to do with your heathcare - some of them have to be greenlit by your GP.
posted by filmgeek at 8:19 AM on May 7, 2005

There are some good answers here and here, but none that help you directly. Worth a read though.
posted by fionab at 8:24 AM on May 7, 2005

Take a look at About Psychotherapy, a very pragmatic and interesting introduction to the subject.
posted by koenie at 8:36 AM on May 7, 2005

(sennoma not frykitty here, too lazy to log in to my own account)

You'll need a referral from a GP, and it's a good place to start anyway since your GP might know of a good counsellor/psychiatrist/whatever for the specific issue at hand.

I can recommend Geoff Rees as an excellent psychiatrist. I can't remember the name of the building he works in but it's directly across from Toowong Towers (the big blue thing). The address is 10 Benson St and the phone number is 3870 5700 (like I said, you'll need a referral from a GP but you could ring that number to get all the details right and make sure Geoff is taking patients).
posted by frykitty at 9:51 AM on May 7, 2005

Sounds like a psychologist would be the go -- and in fact, maybe there are group courses or workshops. I suggest psychologist because your wife obviously has insight into the situation and wants to do something about it and it doesn't sound like it is too drastic a problem. Perhaps she just needs a few sessions to learn some self management/stress reduction techniques. (And then there's alternative possibilities such as yoga if she's interested.) All good info. above too.

Not sure about a need for referral for a psychologist. Nor am I sure about the medicare situation - probably covers some, but I wouldn't stake money on it. If she has private cover, then no worries.
Anyway, there's 460+ of them in Brisbane so she can choose one closest to home.
posted by peacay at 10:52 AM on May 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, guys. We're going to sit down together to choose one, after going to a GP. I don't think it will be an issue that requires long treatment.

Peacay: it's the boy who needs the stress management, not the wife. An oft-made mistake on mefi, to be sure :)
posted by chronic sublime at 5:20 PM on May 7, 2005

Best wishes - and I hope you keep in mind that a counselor is only good if the patient thinks he/she is. So if there isn't a good fit - if the counselor doesn't seem to understand the problem, or seems to offer inappropriate solutions, or doesn't seem right for some other reason - then definitely consider going to someone else. (Sort of like dating - things can either go smoothly or not, and it's always okay to end a dating relationship that isn't going well.)
posted by WestCoaster at 6:49 PM on May 7, 2005

Ah sorry chronic sublime....I should keep commentary to 'SO' and non-sexual pronouns such as 'they'.
I should also READ the question better.
Besta luck.
posted by peacay at 8:30 PM on May 7, 2005

In terms of choosing a shrink usually it is a process of trial and error, in order to find someone he is comfortable with.
posted by scazza at 10:09 AM on May 8, 2005

Nowadays, many psychiatrists don't do much talk therapy and are more in the med prescription business, although there exist many psychiatrists who are excellent therapists. Psychologists are not able to prescribe and (depending on their training model and level of training) are trained in treatment, assessment, consultation, research, etc.
posted by abbyladybug at 2:21 PM on May 8, 2005

« Older Video/sound artists   |   Fave iPod accessories? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.