Posted by: Dan | 2009-07-10


Hi Doc, would like to know whether Psychiatrists specialise in a specific approach as do Psychologists? I know psychologists are either specialised in CBT (which you frequently recommend) or analytical or other approaches. Does the same count for psychiatrists? My reason for asking is that my mother' s GP has told her to seek a second opinion regarding the medication she is taking (something to do with the amount of lithium in her blood). She has been variously diagnosed as having mayor and bi-polar depression. As I am now researching possible options (NW province) I would like to know whether I may ask what their specialisation is in? Or is that a rude question to ask?

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Maybe. Not all psychiatrist or psychologists specialize in a particular type of problem or a particular method of treatment, though most do to some extent. Psychologists may be trained in different kinds of therapy, and often sick to the form they first trained in, even if, as in analytical methods, there is no god evidence that it ever works, and increasing evidence that it is useless. As CBT is a more recent development, based on the older forms of Behaviour Therapy ( which all properly trained psyhologists ought to have been trained in ) many will have needed to learn about it on their own, after graduation, though more recently trained shrinks should have been trained in this form.
It isn't at all rude to ask shrinks WHETHER they specialize in, or have a special interest in, any particular form of problem or treatment. Many may say they are generalists ; Some have interests, but can't exactly specialize in a narrow range of problems beause, especially if they don't live in a very large city, there just might not be enough of that particular type of problem in their neighbourhood to keep them fully occupied.
IN your mother's case, the question would be different. You'd be saying that your mother has been recommended by her GP to seek a specialist opinion, that her problem has been identified as Bipolar Disorder and major depression, with questions about her medication and particular lithium --- and is that the sort of problem this psychiatrist would usually deal with.
That's an entirely reasonable and sensible question to ask

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