If you've decided to work on your mental health problems with a therapist, then you might be surprised when they tell you that they think you should see a psychiatrist. However, this doesn't mean that your therapy isn't working; it simply means that your therapist feels that you need specialized help.
Why does your therapist want to refer you to a psychiatrist?
You Have a Possible Medical Problem
Regular therapists treat people with psychological problems. Their clients often have mental health issues which are based on trauma, past events, or life experiences.
Psychotherapy is an effective way to treat these problems for many people. Being able to talk in a safe environment unlocks ways to come to terms with your past and to change your future behavior.
However, some patients have psychological problems with a medical cause. For example, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and thyroid conditions can drive people to therapy. They might have mental health struggles but don't yet realize that their medical conditions cause or worsen their problems.
If your therapist thinks that you might have an underlying medical problem, then they might recommend that you see a psychiatrist. Regular therapists can't make a medical diagnosis, but psychiatrists can.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They can look at your health history and that of your family. They can organize tests. If you have a condition or illness that is impairing your mental health, then they can make a formal diagnosis.
You Might Need Medication
Some people benefit from taking medications during their therapeutic journeys. In some cases, this is a medical necessity. For example, if you have bi-polar disorder, then meds will control your condition and the effect it has on your moods.
In some cases, patients simply benefit from a little extra help during this difficult time. For example, if you suffer from severe depression, then anti-depressants might help you feel better and more able to continue therapy.
However, the majority of therapists can't prescribe medications for you. If your therapist feels that you need a prescription, then they might refer you to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. As a medical doctor, a psychiatrist can prescribe drugs and monitor their effects.
In some cases, therapists recommend that you switch all your treatment to a psychiatric service; in others, they recommend that you consult a psychiatrist as well as continuing your therapy sessions. To get the extra help you need, schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist.