A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor with additional specialist training and qualifications in mental health. They are skilled in recognising and diagnosing specific mental health difficulties and disorders based on the symptoms you experience. A psychiatrist will review your symptoms, your medical and developmental history and your physical health, and consider whether any medication may be beneficial for you, either in the short or the long term. They will be able to assess whether any medication is contra-indicated or is likely to interact with other medications you are taking. Psychiatrists are also skilled in identifying when medication is unlikely to be beneficial to you, and they may be able to recommend alternative or additional approaches. Our psychiatrists consult, diagnose, and prescribe according to the scientific evidence base for effective treatments, as stated in national clinical guidelines such as NICE and SIGN guidelines. They adhere to ICD-10 diagnostic criteria, as well as applying their extensive specialist clinical experience. In many cases people’s medication can be well managed by their GP. A psychiatrist can offer alternative expert consultation and advice when necessary.
There are different types of psychologist, for example there are Educational Psychologists or Forensic psychologists. We are Clinical Psychologists. We are trained over many years to assess and treat individuals with mental health difficulties, using psychological strategies. We use a range of methods (what we often call “models” of therapy) that are based on scientific research. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is probably the most widely used therapy model in the UK currently, however, there are a range of effective models and approaches available. We are trained in a number of different approaches so that we can tailor our interventions both to a person’s specific difficulties, and also to their preferences.
All of our clinicians at The St Andrews Practice work according to a “bio-psycho-social” model of mental health and wellbeing. That is, we take into account the impact of a person’s biological or genetic factors (for instance, a family history of a specific difficulty may increase the likelihood of an individual developing the same difficulties), their psychological factors (for example their thoughts, emotions and resulting behaviours) and their social factors (for example, what support they have around them and the quality of their close relationships). This allows us to attain a detailed holistic view of an individuals unique circumstances and integrate these factors into understanding and treating difficulties.
Sometimes people see both a Psychiatrist and a Clinical Psychologist, and take both a medical and psychological approach to treatment, depending on their difficulties. If you are having a diagnostic assessment for ASD or ADHD you will have sessions with both, as these are multi-disciplinary assessments.
Anyone can call themselves a counsellor or therapist, and there are many people that do so with a range of training and qualifications, from not very much, to quite a lot. Many counsellors and therapists are very good at what they do, however, if you chose to take this route to getting help make sure you check out their credentials and accreditation and find out what their training actually involved!
Clinical Psychologist is a protected title. That means that you can only use it professionally if you have the highest level of clinical training – a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Throughout this training clinicians complete both academic work and clinical work under qualified supervision. Doctoral trainees are very closely observed and evaluated to ensure they acquire the necessary skills to work within this role. You can be assured that our Clinical Psychologists have this qualification, and our practitioner details can be freely found on the website of our regulatory body – the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
Counselling is often beneficial for people who want a safe place to talk through and get support with their difficulties. Clinical Psychology is more than that. We do a lot of “psychoeducation” in our work – that is, helping you to understand how your brain, your body, your thoughts and emotions link together and impact on your behaviours, your daily functioning and your ways of coping. Our interventions are based on facilitating long term change and improving your quality of life and wellbeing. They can be hard work and sometimes involve completing tasks between sessions, however, we know these are the approaches with the best evidence base for improving your mental health and alleviating distress.
Speak to your GP initially if you are finding it hard to understand your difficulties and what support you might need. If you want to access support from The St Andrews Practice, fill in our online self-referral form with as many details as you can, and we will review it to see if we can offer you an initial appointment to discuss things further.
If we agree that psychological treatment is likely to be of benefit to you, we will discuss and explain the range of therapies we offer and recommend one that is likely to fit with your specific needs and preferences. Treatment will be agreed collaboratively between you and your clinician. Sometimes we will use approaches from different therapeutic models if there is indication to do so. The rationale for this will all be discussed with you throughout your treatment.
All of our sessions are completely confidential. Information will not be given to family members, universities, friends, or your GP, without your explicit consent.
However, if we judge from information you provide to us that you or someone else is at immediate risk of coming to harm, we have a legal duty of care to break confidentiality in order to ensure your safety or the safety of others.
Any personal data is stored on fully GDPR compliant electronic software accessible only by The St Andrews Practice. Please refer to our terms and conditions for full details around confidentiality and GDPR issues.
Psychological intervention can range from a few sessions to a few years, depending on an individual’s needs and preferences. We would expect a standard assessment to take approximately 2 to 3 sessions. This would generally be followed by a formulation session, which involves bringing together the different factors that influence you and thinking about how they impact on your mental health (putting the pieces of the jigsaw together) and coming up with an individualised treatment plan. A standard CBT treatment is usually 12-24 sessions, however some will only need two or three and some will need more than 24. A therapy like schema therapy is likely to take longer than standard CBT because it works on deeply held beliefs formed in childhood. There are many factors to consider when estimating duration of therapy. Life is prone to throwing us curve balls which can impact on therapy, your levels of motivation can fluctuate, and environmental stressors can also play a part. It is possible to take therapeutic breaks during chaotic periods in your life, however, it is also the case that consistent engagement and attendance is necessary to make progress in therapy.
Currently, The St Andrews Practice only sees adults aged 18 or over. However, this may change in the future due to a demand for accessible private child and adolescent services.