What is The Difference Between a Psychiatric Evaluation and a Psychological Evaluation?

Psychiatric Evaluation by The Center for Cognitive Therapy in Falls Church, VA 

When it comes to knowing our mental health, various assessments and evaluations are used by professionals to help us. Two common ones you might hear about are psychiatric evaluations and psychological evaluations. But what’s the difference between them? Let’s break it down.

What is a Psychiatric Evaluation?

A psychiatric evaluation is like a deep dive into your mental health conducted by a psychiatrist—a medical doctor who specializes in mental health. During this evaluation, the psychiatrist examines your mental health from a medical perspective.

They’re interested in things like your medical history, any medications you’re taking, and any physical conditions that might affect your mental health.

What Happens During a Psychiatric Evaluation?

During a psychiatric evaluation, the psychiatrist might ask questions about your symptoms, feelings, and thoughts. They might also observe your behavior and appearance to get a better understanding of what’s going on. The goal is to diagnose any mental health conditions you might have and come up with a treatment plan to help you feel better.

What is a Psychological Evaluation?

Now, let’s talk about psychological evaluations. These are done by psychologists—experts in human behavior and the mind. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists typically don’t prescribe medication. Instead, they focus on understanding how your mind works and how you behave in different situations.

What Happens During a Psychological Evaluation?

The psychologist will use various tools and techniques to assess your mental health during a psychological evaluation. They might give you questionnaires to fill out, conduct interviews, or even administer tests to measure your cognitive abilities or personality traits. The goal is to get a comprehensive picture of your mental health and functioning.

Key Differences Between Psychiatric and Psychological Evaluations

Now that we know what each evaluation involves, let’s highlight the key differences between them:

  1. Focus: A psychiatric evaluation focuses more on the medical aspects of mental health, such as diagnosing and treating psychiatric disorders with medication. On the other hand, a psychological evaluation focuses on understanding your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, often without medication.
  2. Professionals Involved: Psychiatric evaluations are conducted by psychiatrists and medical doctors specializing in mental health.

    Conversely, psychological evaluations are conducted by psychologists who are experts in human behavior and the mind but are not medical doctors.
  3. Approach to Treatment: Due to their medical background, psychiatrists often approach treatment with a focus on medication management. Psychologists, on the other hand, typically use psychotherapy and other non-medical interventions to help clients improve their mental health.

What Do Psychological Evaluations Screen For?

Psychological evaluations at The Center for Cognitive Therapy and Assessment help your professionals screen for various issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, anger management issues, ADHD, ADD, autism spectrum disorders, low motivation, and hopelessness. 

These evaluations identify situations that overload your coping abilities, enabling your psychologist to develop an effective treatment plan.

Are Psychological Evaluations Right for Me?

You might consider psychological evaluations if you experience ongoing sadness, fear, difficulty paying attention, managing anger, controlling thoughts of self-harm, or feeling hopeless about the future. These assessments can provide valuable insights into your mental health and help guide treatment decisions.

What Happens During Psychological Evaluations?

During social-emotional testing at The Center for Cognitive Therapy and Assessment, a licensed psychologist discusses your medical history, symptoms, medication regimen, and lifestyle habits. 

They evaluate defining personality traits, such as how you relate to others, react to stress, and perceive yourself. This assessment allows your provider to determine how behavioral, social, and emotional difficulties affect your cognitive abilities.

What Should I Expect After a Psychological Session?

During the feedback portion of a psychological evaluation, your psychologist summarizes their findings and makes specific recommendations for alleviating roadblocks through individual or group psychotherapy sessions. 

The Center for Cognitive Therapy and Assessment offers social-emotional testing as an optional add-on to psychoeducational assessment or tests for kids.

Is the Treatment Worth It?

After undergoing a psychological evaluation, you might wonder if the treatment recommended by your psychologist is truly worth it. It’s a valid question and one that deserves careful consideration.

Things To Know

First and foremost, it’s essential to recognize that investing in your mental health is always worthwhile. Like taking care of your physical health, addressing mental health concerns can significantly improve your overall well-being and quality of life. Mental health approach can help you manage symptoms, cope with stressors, and build resilience, ultimately leading to a happier and more fulfilling life.

Furthermore, psychological treatment approaches, such as therapy, have been extensively researched and proven to be ideal for a wide range of mental health conditions. 

Whether you’re going through anxiety, depression, trauma, or relationship issues, therapy can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome obstacles and thrive.

Of course, undergoing treatment may require time, effort, and commitment. It can be challenging, and there may be challenges. However, the rewards of improved mental health and a more fulfilling life far outweigh any temporary discomfort or inconvenience.

Which One Do You Need?

So, which evaluation do you need? It depends on your specific situation. If you’re struggling with symptoms like severe mood swings or hallucinations, a psychiatric evaluation might be more appropriate since it can lead to medication management if needed.

But if you’re dealing with issues like anxiety, depression, or relationship problems, a psychological evaluation and therapy with a psychologist might be the way to go.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between a psychiatric evaluation and a psychological evaluation can help you make informed decisions about your mental health care. If you’re unsure which one you need, don’t hesitate to reach a mental health professional for guidance.

Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, and taking care of your mental health is important for your overall well-being. Book an appointment with us here at The Center for Cognitive Therapy. We’re here to help you on your journey to better mental health.

Again, don’t hesitate to keep in touch whenever needed. See you around, soon!

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