Psychotherapy and Psychiatry are two separate but related fields in Mental Healthcare that both deal with treatment of the human mind. This article will briefly discuss the differences and similarities between each field.
In the media we are most often likely to see the popular image of a psychiatrist seated on a comfortable looking armchair while a patient lies on the couch and explains how they feel. After a few Freudian interpretations of their behaviour the psychiatrist writes a prescription for the patient and they resume therapy a week later. This image is no coincidence; in fact, it most likely has its roots in the early 20th century when Sigmund Freud began using Psychoanalysis as a technique to cure neurotic symptoms. As Freud was a Physician he also had an understanding that symptoms which could not be explained physiologically most likely had a psychological basis. Psychoanalysis,where patients lie on the couch and Free Associate, was the technique he used to discover the psychological basis of physical complaints and alleviate symptoms.
As the years progressed and the fields of Psychology and Medicine evolved Psychiatry developed as a discipline in its own right in the treatment of mental illnesses using medicine. Alzheimers, Schizophrenia, and Clinical Depression are some of the diagnoses that can have medical bases and affect mental wellbeing, and are treatable through certain medications. Psychiatry therefore seeks to treat certain diagnoses through the use of medication, by looking at hormonal and chemical imbalances in the brain as well as structural differences as probable cause.
Psychotherapy looks to enhance mental wellbeing and optimal psychological functioning through the use of various methods and techniques. The goal is improved functioning in life when handling certain stressors or life situations. This is primarily achieved through therapy sessions but as the field has evolved it has come to include workshops, life coaching, and other forms of therapeutic approaches. While the range of techniques may differ, the common thread is that treatment is conducted without the use of medication.
However, both Psychiatry and Psychotherapy share the interest of improving Mental Health. This means that they are able to work side-by-side in an integrative manner to provide effective treatment. We often find that the best outcomes for anxiety and depression are achieved when medication (psychiatry) and psychotherapy address the issue. This demonstrates that they are not exclusive, and can be used in a holistic manner for positive psychological change.
Ultimately it is about preference and what is best for the individual. At Bryanwood we offer a range of psychotherapy services to help improve psychological health for children, teenagers, and adults induding couples and groups] to help in this regard.
Bryanwood Therapy and Assessment Centre
– Counselling Psychologist, Bertrand Leopeng