What is a Psychiatrist? A Psychiatric Physician.

 Psychiatrists have the education,  training and experience to treat the highest levels of complexity and  severity of mental illness.  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor - a  physician - who is skilled in:

  • Normal development across a person's lifespan
  • Assessment, treatment and prevention of mental illness, including substance use disorders
  • Understanding and explaining the interface between mental illness and other medical conditions
  • Psychotherapy and other therapeutic modalities to facilitate positive outcomes in mental health
  • Recommending (or recommending against) the use of psychiatric medications in the treatment of mental illness
  • Integrating  treatment along important life domains including education,  occupational, family, interpersonal relationships and community  functioning

For more information, please visit the information pages of APA and AACAP on this subject.


What is the training of a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist has successfully completed the following educational and training requirements:

  • Completed an undergraduate college degree or training - typically a 4-year college degree
  • Completed  medical school training and earned a Doctorate of Medicine (MD)  or Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) - both are 4-year degrees
  • Completed and passed 3 separate steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
  • Completed specialization in a General Psychiatry Residency program - typically a 4-year program
  • May have achieved additional subspecialization in a Fellowship program
  • Maintains an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the state where he/she provides care
  • Pursues ongoing learning and professional development through Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities

For more information, please visit the information pages of APA and AACAP on this subject.


Questions & Answers

Q: Where can I find a psychiatrist in my community or in Montana?​
         A: Click on the Members page.

Q: What can I do if there are no psychiatrists in my community?
         A: Contact your community Pediatrician, Family Practice physician or primary care provider.

Q: What can I do to advocate for a psychiatrist to be available in my community?
         A: Clearly communicate your expectations to your community hospital, local mental health agency, and state departmental and elected officials.

Q: If I see a psychiatrist, will I end up on medications?​
          A: In many cases, psychiatrists recommend and advocate for  treatments other than medications.  For more information psychiatric medications, visit Parents Med Guide, NAMI or the NIMH.

Q: Will I be blamed for my problems?
          A: No, although you are the most important factor in your own  recovery.  Everyone can learn new skills to cope and improve.

Q: Where can I find more mental health information?​
         A: Good resources for information include APA, AACAPNAMIMental Health America and NIMH.

Q: What if I need help but do not want to be labeled with a disorder?
          A: While the stigma of having a mental illness remains in the  US, the impact of untreated mental illness typically is far worse.

Q: Who can help me advocate in my mental health care?
         A: Montana organizations include NAMI MontanaMental Health America of Montana, the Montana Insurance Commissioner and Disability Rights Montana.