What Does A Psychiatrist Do?

In short a psychiatrist diagnoses, treats, and prevents emotional, mental, and behavioural disorders. When psychiatrists meet with a patient they make an assessment of the patient’s emotional and mental state. Based on this assessment they make a diagnosis centred on the symptoms and medical data of the patient. Their diagnosis is guided by the criteria established in APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Psychiatrist Job Description and Career Requirements

During the process of diagnosis a psychiatrist may perform extensive medical and psychological testing, as well as, have a discussion with the patient and his friends and relatives. It is because psychiatrists have extensive training in medicine that they can perform these medical tests themselves, unlike psychologists who must refer the patient to a doctor for testing.

Once the disorder has been diagnosed psychiatrists may then choose to treat the ailment with a combination of psychotherapy, psychosocial interventions, electroconvulsive therapy, and medication that they themselves prescribe. The goal of psychotherapy is to help patients change their destructive behaviours and to aid patients in dealing with their emotions in a healthy way. The technique is backed up.


A psychiatrist utilizing psychotherapy will sit with a patient and have an open, non-judgemental discussion about his emotional and mental state. The psychiatrist will then identify the behaviours that are causing problems and will suggest ways of changing the behaviours.

There are many ways of performing psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioural, interpersonal, and other kinds of talk therapy each backed by scientific data, which shows that they do help people live healthier lives. While psychotherapy is used to combat the behavioural aspect of a disorder, medication is used to treat the underlying biochemical cause.

Medication will switch off or on the biochemical pathways in the brain that’s associated with a mental disorder. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which uses electrical currents to stimulate the brain, is oftentimes used to treat severe depression.

Career Requirement

To pursue a career in psychiatry you’re required to attain multiple educational qualifications. You’ll first need to complete a bachelor’s degree program in science. And because you’re thinking of becoming a psychiatrist, it would be best to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Other options that go quite well with the career path of psychiatry are a bachelor’s degree in Biology or a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, although you’re not limited to either it would just be in your best interest to pursue these degrees because you’ll need to apply to and attend medical school. Remember as a psychiatrist you’ll be focused on both the behavioural and medical aspects of disorder, so next you’ll need to attend medical school for four years.

This will give you the knowledge of the biochemical processes that result in the development of mental disorders and it will also give you the title of a doctor, which you’ll need in order to prescribe medication.

You’ll spend the first half of your medical degree program studying the theory of diseases then the second half of your program will focus on clinical rotations where you’ll learn from licensed physicians. Once you’ve obtained a medical degree you’ll need to complete a 4 year psychiatry residency. During this period of time you can specialize in whatever field of psychiatry you’re interested in.

Becoming Certified

After your residency you can then apply for both your medical license and certification. If you have an MD degree you are required to take and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). On the other hand, if you have a DO degree you must take the Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

To become certified psychiatrist you must write and pass the examination given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. As a certified psychiatrist you can practice your profession throughout the U.S.