Psychiatric Professions Video: Career Options in the Psychiatry Field

Psychiatric Professions Video: Career Options in the Psychiatry Field Transcript

Good mental health is a prerequisite to living a healthy, happy life. A career as a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychiatric technician can allow you to help those suffering from depression, addiction or other mental illnesses. If you're a good listener and have an interest in the mysteries of the human mind, consider a career in the field of psychiatry. A doctoral degree and professional license are required for advanced positions, while technicians may receive their training in an associate's degree program.


Psychiatric professionals treat patients suffering from depression, addiction, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. Common positions in psychiatry include psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric technicians. These careers require education and training that ranges from an associate's degree or professional diploma to completion of a Ph.D. or medical doctorate degree program.

Job Duties and Skills

Psychiatrists and psychologists treat patients suffering from mental illnesses and disease. They offer both group and individual therapy sessions depending on their patients' needs. Therapy sessions may include discussion of a patient's life, feelings, troubles and problems. The psychiatrist or psychologist attempts to interpret their patients' body language and speech in order to develop a diagnosis and treatment plan. Patients are provided with feedback and a set of goals to strive for before their next session. In addition to treating those with identifiable mental illness, psychiatric professionals may also work with health patients looking to improve their mental health and well-being. In these cases, the therapist acts as more of a guide, offering encouragement, advice and even criticism to their patients.

Psychiatric technicians assist psychiatrists by preparing patients for treatment sessions, administering medications, transporting patients and performing other support tasks. A psychiatric technician works mostly with patients being treated in the mental health ward of larger hospitals and clinics.

All psychiatric professionals must have excellent communication skills and should be sympathetic to their patients' problems. Treating mental illnesses requires that psychologists, psychiatrists, technicians and therapists be respectful, honest and ethical. Those who treat patients should also be observant in order to detect the smallest changes in their patients' personalities.

Training Required

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, just like pediatricians and surgeons. Between medical school, an internship and residency, a psychiatrist can expect to spend up to seven years in training. This does not include the time needed to complete the prerequisite undergraduate degree program. During their training, psychiatrists will study human anatomy and the nature and treatment of physical and mental illnesses. They will also begin treating patients under the guidance of experienced physicians.

Psychologists complete research based doctoral degree programs that confer a Doctor of Psychology degree or Ph.D. in Psychology. These programs include five to seven years of postgraduate classroom study and field research on the principles of psychology. An additional two year internship is needed to become a licensed psychologist. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are usually unable to prescribe medications.

Other careers in psychiatry may require anything from a technical certificate or associate's degree to a master's degree. Psychiatric technicians can be trained in one to two years. Counselors, therapists and some social workers must be licensed in addition to completing a master's degree program.

Career Options

Psychiatrists and psychologists are often employed by the mental health department of hospitals or clinics. Some professionals elect to enter private practice, working with clients whose needs best fit their skills and abilities. Psychologists may also be employed by public or private schools as guidance counselors or school psychologists.

State, local and federal government agencies employ social workers, grief counselors and other mental health professionals. These positions are often filled by licensed psychiatrists or psychologists, although some positions may only require a master's degree in psychology or a related field.

Psychiatric technicians are most often employed by larger hospitals in order to assist psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Psychiatric technicians usually have basic training and need additional education, training and licensing for career advancement.


A variety of career options await those interested in psychiatry. Psychiatrists and psychologists work directly with patients to diagnose and treat mental disorders, while technicians assist psychiatrists and help patients prepare for and follow through with their treatments. If you have an interest in helping others feel their best, a career in the mental health field may be for you.


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