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Friday, May 13, 2011

Psychiatrist/Psychologist/Social Worker: Where to Begin

Question: A few months ago, I was laid off from my job and haven’t been able to find work yet.  It’s been a really hard time for me and my family and I’m feeling really depressed because of the whole situation.  I want to get some help, but when I started looking around I heard a lot of different terms like psychiatrist, social worker, psychologist and I don’t know which one could help me best.
                                                                                   -Bill H., Glendale, NY

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your difficult situation and I hope you are able to find work soon; however I am glad that you recognized the need for help and that you are actively seeking it.  That is a courageous and admirable step.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers each have a unique skill set and therefore are best suited for particular kinds of mental health care services.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors with a specialty in “psychiatry” or the treatment of mental illness.  Most psychiatrists mainly prescribe psychoactive medication like antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.  They usually do not do psychotherapy.  Psychologists provide psychotherapy and are also experts in psychological testing.  In the vast majority of the U.S. they cannot prescribe medication because they do not have any medical training.  Social workers provide psychotherapy and do not do psychological testing or medication prescription.

So, depending on what you need (medication, therapy etc.), you would see the appropriate professional.  I recommend starting with a social worker or psychologist and asking them to evaluate you and help you determine which kind(s) of help would be best for you.

Best of luck.

1 comment:

  1. Michael Sternberg is a psychiatrist specializing in medication management, ADHD, anxiety, and depression in Woodbridge, VA and Falls Church, VA (near McLean,VA).
    Michael R. Sternberg, M.D.
    Phone : 703 760-0013
    Now Serving Northern Virginia: Woodbridge, Falls Church, McLean, and Fairfax
    3166 Golansky Blvd., Suite 102
    Woodbridge, VA 22192
    405 N. Washington St.
    Falls Church, VA 22046

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