Healthcare Providers

In Touch comprises of a robust team of culturally diverse Healthcare providers to ensure your mental health and wellness, and medical needs are met.

Understanding the pivotal roles that our Healthcare Providers play in your life, is a key first step that may help you to identify what type of support you may require.

Psychiatrist

Psychiatry is the speciality of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the mental health field. 

Despite their similarities, psychiatrists aren’t the same as psychologists. Psychiatrists get medical training that lets them prescribe medications and perform procedures. Psychologists primarily provide counseling and nonmedical support but do neuro-psych evaluations.

Through your initial consultation with your In touch psychiatrist, they’ll first ask about your mental and physical symptoms. This may involve a physical exam, lab tests, and/or a psychological evaluation. As part of the process, they’ll refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to determine what mental illness you may have.

There are numerous classes of mental illness, including: 

  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Bipolar and related disorders
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Feeding and eating disorders
  • Elimination disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Substance-related and addictive disorders
  • Personality disorders

 

It may take more than your initial appointment to receive an appropriate diagnosis.

After your diagnosis is determined, the psychiatrist will discuss your condition and work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment may involve any combination of the following: 

  • Medication
  • Brain stimulation therapies, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • CT therapy (electroconvulsive therapy) and now ketamine therapy
  • Psychotherapy, or talk therapy
  • Light therapy, which mainly treats seasonal depression

 

Some common medications psychiatrists prescribe include:

  • Hypnotics
  • Sedatives and anxiolytics
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Stimulants

There are several signs that you might benefit from visiting a psychiatrist, including: 

  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Uncontrollable alcohol or drug use
  • Body image problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Emotional outburst
  • Sleep issues
  • Problems adjusting to life changes
  • Anxiety or worry
  • Lasting depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hurting yourself 
  • Obsessive thinking

Psychologist

A psychologist is a trained mental health professional who supports people in learning healthy ways to handle mental health challenges. They can help individuals experiencing specific conditions, like depression or anxiety, or those who are going through a difficult time in life, like grieving the loss of a loved one. Psychologists undergo years of education and training to be able to provide a range of mental health services.

Psychologists study and help treat people’s cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behaviors. One of their primary goals is to assess and understand their clients’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. They go about this by:

  • Identifying behavioral and emotional patterns
  • Diagnosing disorders
  • Making referrals
  • Coming up with appropriate treatment plans

 

Psychologists may work with clients in private practice or in other settings, such as schools, hospitals, community health centers, prisons, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers. They may also do research and conduct studies in their field.

Psychologists treat mental health issues by providing counseling and psychotherapy, which is also known as talk therapy, and participate in research.

Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not medical doctors. That means that cannot write prescriptions or perform medical procedures in Canada. 

Although there are many different types of psychologists, most of them fit into five different categories:

1. Clinical psychologists 

2. Neuropsychologists

3. Health psychologists

4. Counseling psychologists

5. Forensic psychologists 

There are several reasons that you might want to consult with a psychologist. You should reach out if you relate to any of the following signs:

  • You have thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that seem out of control and are negatively affecting your relationships, work, or overall sense of well-being. 
  • You’re struggling to deal with life issues, such as illness, death of a loved one, divorce, or problems at work. 
  • Your use of drugs or alcohol is interfering with your health, emotions, relationships, or responsibilities. 
  • You need an unbiased and caring person to help you sort out your emotions. 
  • You feel hopeless to the extent that life no longer seems worth living. 

Different professionals have their own way of practicing and interacting with clients, but in general, you can expect a psychologist to:

Ask Questions 

When you first arrive, your psychologist will likely ask you a few questions, such as:

  • What brings you here today?
  • What is your personal history?
  • When did your problem begin?
  • What makes your problem better or worse?
  • What is your relationship like with alcohol and drugs?

Answering these questions helps your psychologist gather information, and it may require more than one session to get the whole picture.

Do Some Tests

Next, they may want you to take one or more psychological tests. These can help your psychologists understand the problem you’re presenting and eventually reach a diagnosis. Tests may assess your mood, personality characteristics, or memory and concentration.

Talk About Treatment

Once your psychologist has a clear idea of what issues you might be facing, they will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you. All forms of treatments used by psychologists are research-based and proven to be effective. They include different forms of therapy, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Systems therapy

Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist utilizes talk therapy to treat people for emotional problems and mental illnesses. Depending on what degree and specialty they get, psychotherapists can be psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, or social workers. They can work with individuals, couples, groups, or families.

Psychotherapists use talk therapy to help you manage with general emotional unrest or acute trauma or illness. They treat everything from daily overwhelm to grief to specific mental disorders like depression or anxiety. Sometimes talk therapy is used in combination with medications or lifestyle changes. However, not all psychotherapists are licensed to prescribe medication. 

Psychotherapists use talk therapy to help you live a better, healthier life. Psychotherapy has been shown to improve emotions and behavior, and to go along with positive changes in the body and brain.

The psychotherapist’s role in talk therapy is to: 

  • Offer a solution for your problem
  • Engage in discussion about it
  • Help you understand what you’re going through
  • Analyze your conversation 
  • Help you change your actions

Psychotherapists use talk therapy to help you work through daily life troubles that include: 

  • Resolving relationship problems
  • Easing anxiety or stress from work or other situations
  • Living with major life changes
  • Managing unhealthy reactions
  • Coming to terms with a serious health issue
  • Recovering from abuse
  • Handling sexual problems
  • Getting better sleep 

 

Sometimes these daily issues can become bigger challenges. Psychotherapists diagnose and treat most mental health disorders like: 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Addictions
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

 

If you’re experiencing any of these challenges, you may benefit from psychotherapy. Your psychotherapist will help you resolve these issues and begin feeling better.

Once you’ve found the right psychotherapist for you, you’ll have to do initial paperwork so they can understand you and your medical history. The first few sessions will help your therapist to get to know you and your situation. This let’s them determine the best style of treatment.

Psychotherapists can treat both adults and children. There may be short-term plans to heal immediate issues or long-term treatment plans to treat more complex challenges.

There are multiple types of therapy based on your unique circumstance and preference. These include: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy helps you identify and change behavior patterns and thinking that may be harmful to you. You’ll work on replacing them with accurate thoughts and functional behaviors.  

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

This short-term treatment helps you understand your underlying interpersonal issues. It trains you to express your emotions better and improve communication with others. 

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychotherapists use this method to address and treat childhood trauma in order to improve behavior and mental wellness. 

Supportive therapy

This approach helps you develop your own resources to reduce anxiety, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social and community functioning. Psychotherapists use guidance and encouragement to help you.

If you are struggling with your mental health, consider reaching out to your doctor or a psychotherapy professional to discuss if talk therapy would be helpful for you.

Physician

A physician is a general term for a doctor who has earned a medical degree. Physicians work to maintain, promote, and restore health by studying, diagnosing, and treating injuries and diseases.

Physicians generally have six core skills:

  1. Patient care.Physicians must provide compassionate, appropriate, and effective care to promote health and treat health problems in their patients. 
  2. Medical knowledge. Physicians must be experts in established and new biomedical, clinical, and cognate sciences and how to apply this knowledge to patient care.
  3. Practice-based learning and improvement. Physicians must always investigate and evaluate their own care and look for ways to improve.
  4. Interpersonal and communication skills. Physicians must be able to communicate effectively with patients, their families, and other health professionals.
  5. Professionalism. A commitment to professionalism includes carrying out professional responsibilities, sticking to ethical principles, and being sensitive to a diverse patient population.
  6. Systems-based practice. Physicians must be aware of and responsive to the larger context and system of health care. They must also be able to find and use resources to provide the best care possible.

Physicians diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses. Other responsibilities include: 

  • Giving advice on diet, hygiene, and preventative care
  • Examining patients
  • Prescribing medications
  • Ordering, giving, and interpreting diagnostic tests 
  • Taking and keeping medical histories

 

There are generally two types of physicians: medical doctors (MD) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO). They use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but DOs also focus on the body’s musculoskeletal system, preventative medicine, and holistic patient care. 

Some specific types of physicians include:

  • Anesthesiologists
  • Family and general physicians
  • Internists
  • Pediatricians
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs)
  • Psychiatrists
  • Surgeons

The most common type of physician is a primary care physician, also known as a family doctor. They’re trained to treat a little bit of everything and coordinate care in one location. Some of the most common issues that they handle are:

  • Circulatory issues like hypertension and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes, metabolic diseases, and immunity disorders
  • Ear infections
  • Migraines
  • Pink eye
  • Infections and parasitic diseases
  • Joint disorders or muscle aches
  • Mental disorders like attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, or anxiety
  • Physical injury or poisoning
  • Respiratory issues like asthma, bronchitis, or sinusitis
  • Skin rashes or bumps
  • Bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who has earned a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. They use their expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat patients. But their role often extends into other areas, like health care management and research. 

A CNS’s primary role is to provide quality, cost-effective specialty care. They work in a variety of specialties, including:

  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Geriatrics
  • Psychiatric health
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Wound care
  • Pain management
  • Oncology
  • Critical care
  • Emergency room services

Clinical nurse specialists may order tests, make some diagnoses, administer basic treatments, and, in some country, states/ provinces, prescribe medications. Beyond this, they may provide expertise and support to a team of nurses. They often help create practice changes within an organization and plans that ensure the group is using best practices and providing evidence-based care.

The four primary roles of a clinical nurse specialist are:

  • Expert clinician
  • Educator
  • Researcher
  • Consultant

 

CNSs are trained to spot shortcomings or gaps in health care. They might provide consultation services, communicate with patients and their families, monitor care, design and implement interventions, and evaluate the general delivery of health care.

Clinical nurse specialists also contribute to research on:

  • Reducing hospital costs
  • Reducing the length of hospital stays
  • Reducing the frequency of ER visits
  • Improving pain management practices
  • Improving patient satisfaction
  • Reducing medical complications during in-patient stays

Because clinical nurse specialists serve in different medical specialties, the type of care they provide is diverse. There are several types of care that you might receive from a clinical nurse specialist, including:

Prenatal Care. One study of women with high-risk pregnancies found that mothers who received in-home prenatal care from a clinical nurse specialist spent less time in the hospital, saving them the associated costs of that care.

Preventive Medicine and Wellness Care. Studies show that clinical nurse specialists help spot risks for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, early on. Early diagnosis can lead to better access to preventive care and lower health care costs.

Psychiatric and Behavioral Care. Clinical nurse specialists can provide behavioral health care in private practice settings and to larger communities through outreach programs.

Care for long-term health problems. Care from a clinical nurse specialist can help people with conditions like heart failure, asthma, epilepsy, and diabetes.

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who works with doctors and gives medical treatment. You can find physician’s assistants in virtually all primary care and specialty medical fields. 

A PA’s duties vary, depending on the supervising doctor. State laws also play a role in the kind of care that you may get from a physician’s assistant.  

Some rural areas of Canada and the United States use PAs to provide care for entire communities. As technology advances, the role may also become more vital to an aging population. For these reasons, the demand for physician assistants is steadily increasing.

A physician assistant’s role typically includes things like:

  • Making rounds (checking on patients)
  • Doing patient exams
  • Helping doctors in surgery
  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Writing prescriptions
  • Creating and managing patient treatment plans
  • Offering advice to patients on preventive care and best health practices

 

Although PAs work alongside a supervising doctor, that doesn’t mean they work under the doctor’s direct supervision. Instead, they are in partnership with the doctor. They are independent clinicians within the scope of state law. 

Most governing country or state/ provincial laws require physicians to have agreements with PAs to define what they can do.

PAs work in medical settings including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Medical offices
  • Community health centers
  • Retail clinics
  • Workplace clinics
  • Schools
  • Correctional institutions

 

PAs also work with government agencies like Veterans Affairs (VA) and in branches of the military. 

Physician assistants vs. nurse practitioners

Many people think physician assistants and nurse practitioners are the same. Although they do similar things, they have different education and training.

A nurse practitioner studies advanced nursing. Their training and practice focus on a patient-centered model.

PAs receive training similar to that of a medical student and can dive into different specializations, including:

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics (children’s health)
  • Radiology
  • Obstetrics and gynecology (women’s health)
  • Emergency medicine
  • Ear, nose, and throat (ENT)/Otolaryngology
  • Dermatology (skin health)
  • Cardiology (heart health)
  • Anesthesia
  • Neurology
  • General practice
  • Internal medicine

Physician assistants focus on patient education, preventive care, and managing chronic (long-lasting) health issues. A PA’s training means they can treat many kinds of health problems. 

It may be easier to schedule an appointment with a physician assistant than with a doctor.

PAs may also treat a patient for one issue and notice a problem in another area that requires further attention and a referral to a doctor.