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Do I Need a Therapist or Psychiatrist, or Both? A Guide to Finding the Care You Need


For some time now, there’s been increased awareness in recognizing mental health as essential to one’s well-being as physical health. Yet, navigating the world of mental health services can feel confusing — and we understand that for some, it may be daunting enough to seek help for behavioral or mental health challenges.

Additionally, when considering seeking professional help, a common theme you may have run across is “Therapist vs. Psychiatrist.” But a more beneficial way to think about this would be “therapist or psychiatrist, or both?”

This guide breaks down the roles of therapists and psychiatrists to help clarify which professional might be the best fit for your needs. We’ll also explore when it makes sense to see both — and outline our approach to finding the right match for you.

Not sure if you need a psychiatrist or therapist, or both? Find your nearest Elite DNA location and schedule an appointment today!

Understanding Mental Health

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. And just like physical health, the state of our mental health can fluctuate throughout our lives. However, as we all experience occasional stress, anxiety, or sadness — and when these feelings become overwhelming, persistent, or significantly impact your daily life — it might be time to seek professional help.

If you’re struggling with mental health, seeking professional help can equip you with strategies and tools to improve your overall well-being.

But the question remains — who exactly is the right professional to choose for the best health outcomes?

Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of disorders. These dedicated individuals work collaboratively to provide comprehensive mental health services, and there are two primary types of mental health professionals you might encounter: therapists and psychiatrists.


Therapists often utilize psychotherapy (talk therapy), to address mental health issues. Therapists typically hold a master’s degree or doctorate in a related field such as psychology, social work, clinical counseling, or marriage and family therapy. And they often specialize in specific areas such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, grief/loss, and relationship issues among others.

What can therapists help with?

Therapists can provide support and guidance for many conditions and situations, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress management
  • Grief and loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Family conflict

What happens in therapy?

Therapy sessions typically involve one-on-one conversations between you and your therapist. Your therapist will create a safe and confidential space for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They can also help you develop coping mechanisms, build resilience, and learn healthy behavior patterns.

Types of Therapy: Different therapists may use different approaches to talk therapy. Common types include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)


While a primary care doctor can offer a wide range of medical expertise, a psychiatrist is typically a Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), or a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) with specific training in psychiatry. This specialized training equips these professionals to diagnose mental illness and behavioral health disorders, prescribe medication, provide psychotherapy, and get to the true source of any challenges you’re facing by utilizing multiple tools.

What can psychiatrists help with?

Psychiatrists are well-suited to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Bipolar disorders
  • ADHD
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)
  • Spectrum Disorders
  • Sleep Issues such as Insomnia
  • Schizophrenia

Medication Evaluation and Management

Psychiatric treatment also plays a crucial role in medication management for mental health disorders. Psychiatric care providers can conduct thorough evaluations, prescribe medications, and monitor their effectiveness and side effects. This collaborative approach ensures medication works alongside therapy to support your complete recovery.

Therapist or Psychiatrist: Choosing the Right Mental Health Professional

The best choice for you depends on the nature of your concerns. Here’s a basic breakdown:

  • Therapist: If you’re looking for a professional to help treat mental health conditions, such as anxiety or relationship difficulties, or help you get through a difficult and stressful time in your life, a therapist can be a great resource. They will provide talk therapy and coping mechanisms to help you manage your issues.
  • Psychiatrist: If you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, experiencing significant symptom interference, or require medication management, a psychiatrist can be an excellent choice.

The Collaborative Approach

In many cases, a combination of therapy and psychiatry (and in some cases paired with medication management) can be the most effective approach to treating behavioral or mental health disorders. In addition, therapists and psychiatrists can also work together with other caregivers and primary care doctors in order to create a more holistic, personalized treatment plan for your specific needs.

The Elite DNA Approach to Behavioral & Mental Health Care Coordination

At Elite DNA, (in some cases) our approach begins with your care coordination appointment. This is when our care coordination specialist will listen to your concerns, assess your specific needs, and then match you with the right professional(s) who can help you reach your treatment goals.

Basically, our care coordinators are like expert matchmakers in the world of behavioral and mental health care. As such, they understand that each person’s needs are unique. Through a personalized approach and assessment, they’ll work closely with you to identify the perfect therapy or psychiatry provider for your specific situation. And this ensures you receive the most targeted and effective care possible to improve your chances for a successful outcome.

Depending on your goals and what our care coordinators deduce during your assessment, you may be matched with a therapist, a psychiatrist, or sometimes both.


Psychotherapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. At Elite DNA, we recognize the importance of personalized care. This is why we offer various talk therapy formats to meet your needs including:

  • Individual sessions: Here, we seek to promote individual self-discovery and explore your unique challenges in a confidential setting.
  • Couples therapy: A great way to strengthen bonds with your significant other and navigate relationship hurdles together.
  • Family therapy: We address family dynamics and introduce techniques to create a healthier, more supportive environment.
  • Group therapy: In a group setting, speaking with others who are going through similar challenges offers a greater sense of connection and support.


If you’re best suited to see a psychiatrist, in some cases, your psychiatrist may recommend physical tests like blood work. Note that these aren’t just routine tests — they’re part of a holistic approach to understanding your well-being. Just as your physical health can impact your mental state, the reverse is also true. And by looking at the complete picture, these diagnostic tests can reveal potential physical contributors to your behavioral, mental, or emotional struggles.

At the end of the day, your psychiatrist is like a detective, piecing together the puzzle of your overall health. By carefully assessing your physical health, behavioral health, mental health, and emotional well-being, they develop a targeted treatment plan that addresses the root cause any issues.

What About Therapy and Psychiatry Together?

If you’ve ever wondered if therapy, psychiatry, and medication management can all work together, spoiler alert: they can. And it could be the best path forward. In fact, the American Psychological Association tells us that for conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, a combo of therapy and psychiatry might be the perfect alignment of care.

Think of it like this: therapy equips you with tools to manage your emotions and navigate challenges, while psychiatry paired with medication can provide a helpful boost in managing symptoms. Together, they offer a more comprehensive plan to reclaim your well-being. So, don’t be surprised if your care coordinator suggests both — it’s a sign they’re looking out for all aspects of your recovery.

Trust Elite DNA for Your Therapy and Psychiatry Needs

At Elite DNA Behavioral Health, we understand the importance of personalized care and a comfortable treatment environment. That’s why we offer the beauty of a truly integrated approach. Both psychotherapy and psychiatry services are available right here, under one roof. Our streamlined model eliminates the need to navigate appointments with multiple providers outside of Elite DNA, saving you valuable time and reducing potential stress.

Our team of experts works collaboratively to ensure your treatment plan is cohesive and addresses your needs holistically.

Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Elite DNA is here to provide comprehensive support every step of the way, no matter what challenges you’re facing in life.

Are you ready to meet challenges head-on and take back control of your life? Select your nearest Elite DNA location and schedule your appointment today!

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