What Happens in a Psychiatrist Session?

Written by gigi starr
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What Happens in a Psychiatrist Session?
While it's no longer necessary to lie down during a psychiatric session, it's good to relax and open up about problems. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

When life's problems appear overwhelming, or behavioural issues require assistance, a licensed psychiatrist can help. During psychiatric treatment, a doctor or clinician talks about your problems and helps you formulate workable solutions. Unlike psychologists, a psychiatrist may also prescribe medication. During sessions, a psychiatrist and patient work hand in hand to solve dilemmas and heal emotional hot spots.

First Session

Much of the first psychiatric session revolves around information. A session is confidential, with patient privacy held in high regard. In some cases, a doctor will organise her caseload so that a patient never encounters another in passing, completely preserving anonymity.

After arrival, the patient informs the doctor of any present health issues, as well as family medical history. All of this data counts in a major way, especially in the case of medication. The psychiatrist collects information on terminal illnesses such as cancer, mental illness in any family members, past therapy and self-help methods. She may also talk about the state of important relationships, work, marital status and living situation in order to form a better idea of the client's lifestyle.

Communicating the Problem

Each psychiatric session focuses on an area of the patient's choosing. Perhaps the patient is going through a major life change, or has a history of sexual abuse that requires processing and healing. Other common reasons include grief, high stress, depression and anxiety. In session, the psychiatrist aims to offer a judgment-free space for the client to express anything without fear of censure.


After the client shares his problem, the psychiatrist works to narrow down constructive solutions. Different psychiatric techniques render varied solutions. Some psychiatrists may use a logical, direct method, while others might use technology and acupressure tapping to heal trauma. Still others might reference Christian-based remedies, or may even use astrology as a jumping point. Often, several solutions will come out along the way as the psychiatrist assists the client. The two then team up to come to consensus and to find the best-feeling way forward.


If the psychiatrist deems it necessary, or the patient expresses a need for it, drugs might become part of the healing and coping process. The aim of the psychiatrist is to find the best medication cocktail for the patient's needs, with an eye toward crafting the best possible mental state. This isn't a one-shot deal; it often takes months to find the right mix of drugs to suit each patient, and new products hit the market regularly. After prescribing the medication, the doctor keeps a close eye on patient progress in subsequent visits, adjusting dosage or switching drugs when necessary.

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