Common Questions

What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders, emotional disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance-related disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders and adjustment disorders.  Biologic, psychological, and social components of illnesses are explored and understood in the treatment of the whole person.  Tools used may include diagnostic laboratory tests, prescribed medications, evaluation and treatment of psychological and interpersonal problems with individuals and families, and intervention for coping with stress, crises, and other problems.

What are some examples of  complex medical illnesses in which psychiatric illness or psychological factors may  affect a person's medical care or quality of life?

These include both acute and chronic stages of many medical problems.  Included are the following:  heart disease,  renal disease, cancer, organ transplantation, autoimmune disease, spinal disorders, seizure disorders, high-risk pregnancy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastrointestinal disorders, consequences of plastic surgery, and HIV infection amongst others.    Is medication the answer?

In some cases medication alone or in combination with psychotherapy is the right course of action.  Working with a psychiatrist, you can determine what's best for you.  Often, the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication.  Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress.  You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness.

Is psychotherapy right for me?

Seeking out therapy is an individual choice.  There are many reasons why people come to therapy.  Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression.  Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one's life such as a divorce or work transition.  Many seek the advice of a psychiatrist as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth.  Working with a psychiatrist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges.  Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions.  Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives. 

Do I really need psychotherapy?  I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it.  In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired.  You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy.   Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face. How can psychotherapy help me? A number of benefits are available from participating in psychotherapy.  Psychiatrists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks.  Many people also find that psychiatrists can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life.  Psychiatrists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution.  The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn.  Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

What is psychotherapy like?

Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals.  It is standard for psychiatrists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions.  It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around fifty minutes.  Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth.  There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviors.  It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions.  For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions.  People seeking psychotherapy are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives.  Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:

  • Compassion, respect and understanding
  • Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
  • Real strategies for enacting positive change
  • Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance