A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists typically ask a bunch of questions about your current issues, past problems, and personal story. They also observe your emotional reaction, style of thinking, and behaviour during the interview. They may also request some tests or scans. These assessments are all to find out what the problems are. Psychiatrists will then explain their findings and discuss how to solve the problems.
Psychiatrists provide a whole range of treatment including medication, counselling, and psychotherapy. A private psychiatrist typically sees you in an outpatient clinic. They may see you more frequently first to monitor your progress closely. When you feel better, the psychiatrist may see you less often or may send you back to your GP.
Rarely, a psychiatrist may admit you to hospital for a short period of time. Admission is when it’s absolutely necessary, like when you are at great risk. There is a myth that psychiatrists institutionalise patients in mental hospitals. This is completely false. First of all, mental institutions do not exist anymore since the mental health reform in 1980s. Modern psychiatric units are part of general hospitals and tend to keep clients for short periods of time, most often for one week or two. More importantly, psychiatrists and mental health services strictly follow the Mental Health Act. This act is designed to protect the rights and wishes of people with mental illness.