Mental health specialists
A number of different types of doctors, specialists and therapists may be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.
In most cases, a GP will make a referral to an NHS specialist, or may be able to treat some mental health conditions.
Some therapies such as counselling may be available directly without a GP’s referral if paying privately:
- Cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT): The therapist helps to change people's attitudes and their behaviour through focusing on our thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes and how these relate to the way we behave as a way of dealing with emotional problems. CBT is available on the NHS in some areas.
- Psychologists: Psychologists are trained to provide professional counselling on psychological and emotional issues. They can specialise in areas such as marital counselling, relaxation therapy, stress management, or sex therapy.
- Psychotherapists and psychoanalysts: Psychoanalysts follow Sigmund Freud's theories that painful childhood memories contained in the subconscious are the cause of emotional disturbances. Psychoanalysts are similar to psychologists because they usually deal with emotional issues. Psychoanalytic therapy relies on the principle of transference, that is, a pattern of both conscious and unconscious feelings and thoughts about the analyst that reflect similar feelings and thoughts about other important figures in the patient's life (for example, parents). The goal of the treatment is to make the unconscious conscious so that the patient can begin to recognise maladaptive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that are no longer relevant to their current life circumstances. While psychotherapy is usually performed on a weekly to monthly schedule, psychoanalytic sessions may be conducted several times a week long term.
- Psychiatrists: These professionals specialise in the treatment of mental, emotional, or behavioural problems. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications and may establish therapy sessions to treat the patient.