Should I See A Psychiatrist or Therapist?

When someone wants to start seeing a professional to discuss challenges to their mental health, they may not know where to look first. After all, there are so many titles for people who treat mental health disorders that it can be confusing. One of the biggest questions people have when it comes to finding professional treatment for their mental health is this: “Should I see a psychiatrist or therapist?” Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry delves into this discussion to help illustrate what both approaches can do to help people with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more.

Woman discussing treatment for her schizoaffective disorder
a woman discussing with her therapist ketamine therapy in atlanta

What is the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Therapist?

A key to understanding if you should see a psychiatrist or therapist is understanding what the difference is between the two professions. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has been licensed to treat mental health disorders and prescribe medications to their patients. They may offer initial screenings and diagnoses for people, offer prescriptions for medication and monitoring of them, and also provide talk therapy. Alternatively, they may do the screening and medication management, but refer patients to a therapist for their talk therapy.


A therapist is licensed to treat mental health disorders and typically has a Master’s degree or higher. They provide talk therapy but do not have the ability to prescribe medications. 


Learn More: Therapist vs Psychiatrist: What's The Difference?

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    What Conditions Do Psychiatrists and Therapists Treat?

    Both psychiatrists and therapists treat a variety of types of mental health disorders. This includes the following conditions:

    When someone first visits either a psychiatrist or a therapist, an assessment will be performed to provide an exact diagnosis of what mental health disorder the person has. This informs the approach to treatment and what schedule of therapies will work best.

    A woman in eating disorder treatment in Atlanta.

    The reasons why someone decides to see either a psychiatrist or a therapist are varied. They may have been formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder or they may suspect they have one and want to get a diagnosis. Some people find they are struggling in their lives and want an impartial person to discuss their private lives, emotions, and behaviors with who can offer advice and insight. Both psychiatrists and therapists can help with this. 


    For many people, a therapist provides all the support they need when it comes to talk therapy. Others may find that they feel more comfortable with a psychiatrist because they have more training and education. The individual may also suspect they could benefit from using prescription medications or are already taking them, and they want to have just one treatment provider to provide both therapy sessions and monitoring of their meds.


    It can prove helpful to speak to candidates for a person’s therapy sessions and ask what specific help they can offer. From there, a decision can be made about whether or not to see a psychiatrist or a therapist.

    The question, “Should I see a psychiatrist or therapist?” doesn’t always have an “either/or” answer. Some people only need to see a psychiatrist while others only seek treatment from a therapist. For many people, seeing both professionals provides the right balance for their specific needs. For example, a person may find a therapist they work well with and want to continue seeing. However, they also need prescription medications the therapist cannot prescribe because they are not licensed to do that. These people often make periodic visits to a psychiatrist for prescriptions and to follow up on how the meds are affecting them. Meanwhile, they do the bulk of the work on improving their mental health by engaging in talk therapy with their therapist. 

    What treatment plan is used to help someone overcome or manage a mental health disorder depends on a few factors. These include their diagnosis, how severe their symptoms are, and how they have responded to any previous treatment. There are several types of therapy modalities that provide truly effective help for a person, whether they have a curable mental health disorder or need help managing one that qualifies as a lifelong illness. 


    Some common types of therapy and other treatments used to help people with mental illness include:


    • Psychiatric evaluations
    • Psychotherapy
    • Psychiatry
    • Psychiatry + Med Management
    • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
    • Ketamine therapy
    • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)


    Genetic testing can also be performed to help determine the best way to treat someone’s mental illness based on their individual DNA. As well, some treatment programs offer nutritional counseling to help people eat healthy in a way that supports good mental health. 

    What Levels of Care Do Psychiatrists and Therapists Provide?


    Treatment for mental health disorders takes place in one of two areas. The first is residential treatment, which requires the person to live temporarily in a facility where they receive round-the-clock care for their mental health. The second is outpatient care, which allows the person to live in their own home and travel to a center for their therapy sessions. Both psychiatrists and therapists are licensed to work in either type of setting. They may work in tandem by sharing information about how each patient is progressing in order to provide the most effective care possible. 

    As well, both psychiatrists and therapists can have their own practices where they work without other colleagues. Alternatively, both practitioners can work in a facility that employs multiple mental health professionals.

    Begin Treatment for Mental Illness in Atlanta Today


    Do you struggle with poor mental health and feel ready to seek the right kind of treatment but aren’t sure what that means for your situation? If you find yourself wondering, “Should I see a psychiatrist or therapist?”, we can help you determine the answer. Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry offers both psychiatry and therapist services that help people understand their diagnosis and how they can minimize their symptoms. We partner with each person we treat to help bring out their strengths and show them how to improve their mental health in meaningful ways. 


    If you would like to schedule an appointment with us, contact us today. We are happy to discuss your situation and match you with the type of effective, modern help that you deserve.

    You are not alone. You deserve to get help.

    Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry is an Industry leader in mental health treatment . Our team of top medical experts specialize in dual diagnosis treat and are committed to ensuring that each patient is treated as an individual.
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