What Are Some Psychiatry Specializations?
Are you interested in studying mental health, but you're not sure where to start? Whether you're interested in helping adults or children, you'll have a variety of psychiatric fields from which to choose. Read on to discover which psychiatric specialization most interests you.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as a psychiatrist, you'll treat mental illnesses using a combination of psychotherapy, medication and hospitalization (www.bls.gov). You'll help clients make changes in their thoughts and behaviors to improve their quality of life. You will need to complete a medical school program and a residency in psychiatry to be a licensed psychiatrist.
While in your residency program, you will have the opportunity to study a variety of specializations that can help you determine what type of psychiatrist you want to be. While some schools will allow you to specialize in the general field of adult psychiatry, you may choose to focus more specifically on fields such as substance abuse therapy, biological psychiatry or geriatric psychiatry.
Important Facts About Psychiatry
|Median Salary (2020)||more than $208,000|
|Work Environment||Physicians offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers|
|Similar Occupations||Childcare Workers, Home Health Aides, Personal Care Aides, Social and Human Service Assistants|
|Key Skills||Patience, compassion, and observational skills|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)||12% growth|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Substance Abuse Therapy
If you specialize in substance abuse therapy, sometimes called the medicine of addiction, you'll help treat patients who are dependent on alcohol, tobacco or narcotics. You'll treat patients individually and in groups and develop recovery plans with family members. You may work in a substance abuse rehabilitation facility or with clients who are in outpatient treatment. Your job duties will include assessing your patients' treatment needs, planning their rehabilitation and preventing future substance abuse problems.
If you specialize in biological psychiatry, you'll study and treat patients with psychiatric disorders in their brain chemistry, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Some schools include the treatment of eating disorders and substance abuse in this field. Many biological psychiatry programs have a special focus on women's disorders.
If you specialize in geriatric psychiatry, you'll treat older adults for psychiatric issues commonly found in elderly patients. Your duties may include the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of memory loss, sleep disorders, depression and substance abuse.
Children and Adolescents
If you specialize in childhood and adolescent psychology, you'll treat children and teenagers using many of the same techniques that you'd use to treat adults, including psychotherapy and medication. You will help children cope with mood and anxiety disorders, the emotional effects of long-term illness and learning disabilities. You might also include children's families, teachers and peers in their treatment if appropriate.
If you work with adolescents, your work might also focus on issues specific to the transition from childhood to adulthood. You'll help your patients navigate developmental concerns and promote healthy living standards. You may need to address topics such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, eating disorders, smoking, drug use and peer pressure.
If you specialize in forensic psychiatry, you'll work with attorneys, courts and government agencies to evaluate the mental health of witnesses and suspects. You'll serve as an expert witness when psychiatric issues are involved in a legal case. You might be called upon to testify to a witness' mental capacity to stand trial or a suspect's mental state during the committal of a crime. You may also need to assess mental competency in civil cases, such as medical malpractice, mental health injuries and issues of guardianship.