Psychiatrist Definition

Psychiatrist definitionA psychiatrist is someone who has had medical training and has decided to specialise in psychiatry. The term psychiatry refers to the study of mental disorders. This includes their diagnosis, management and prevention. Psychiatrists often work on a broad range of cases alongside an area of expertise and research.

Similar to general practice or paediatrics - psychiatry is a medical specialty. This means in order to be a psychiatrist you must train for five years as a doctor. A further two years of 'foundation' jobs is needed before specialising in psychiatry. To become a fully trained psychiatrist it typically takes another four years of dedicated study. There is also an option to specialise further still.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing "voices." Or they may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift or problems functioning, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.

Psychiatry builds its knowledge by observing and researching various conditions. A diagnostic system aims to identify clusters of behaviours that occur together - commonly described as syndromes. These are then researched to understand any social, psychological or physical causes, with a view of establishing an effective way of helping.

Psychiatrists can work with people of any age. Yet they tend to work with those with more severe conditions and/or those that require medical intervention.

Within the specialty of psychiatry, there are a number of subspecialties. Each of these requires a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). Such sub-specialties include:

Adult mental illness specialties :
  • general psychiatry
  • forensic psychiatry
  • old age psychiatry
  • psychiatry of learning disabilities
  • psychotherapy.
  • Children's psychiatry


Child and adolescent psychiatry.
Normally, your GP (or other healthcare professional) will refer you to see a psychiatrist. However you can make an appointment with a private practice too. A psychiatrist may work on their own or alongside other health professionals (such as occupational therapists or social workers) depending on the circumstances.

As psychiatrists have medical training, they are able to do things other mental health professionals can't. For example, a psychiatrist can carry out medical tests (i.e. blood tests and CAT scans). They can also prescribe medication should it be required.

Key points about psychiatrists definition :
  • They have had full medical training and have chosen to specialise in psychiatry.
  • They can choose to specialise further in areas such as forensic psychiatry.
  • They can perform medical examinations and tests.
  • They can prescribe medication.


Job Duties and Tasks for  Psychiatrist
  1. Analyze and evaluate patient data and test or examination findings to diagnose nature and extent of mental disorder.
  2. Prescribe, direct, and administer psychotherapeutic treatments or medications to treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders.
  3. Collaborate with physicians, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, or other professionals to discuss treatment plans and progress.
  4. Gather and maintain patient information and records, including social and medical history obtained from patients, relatives, and other professionals.
  5. Counsel outpatients and other patients during office visits.
  6. Design individualized care plans, using a variety of treatments.
  7. Examine or conduct laboratory or diagnostic tests on patient to provide information on general physical condition and mental disorder.
  8. Advise and inform guardians, relatives, and significant others of patients' conditions and treatment.
  9. Review and evaluate treatment procedures and outcomes of other psychiatrists and medical professionals.