Many clients are often confused as to whether they are talking to a psychologist, counsellor or psychiatrist when reaching out for support. Training is extensive for each but also very different.
Phrases like “I need an assessment” or specific queries linked to a psychiatric diagnosis using terms like “personality disorder, psychosis or serotonin inhibitors can form part of this dialogue.
Often many of these clients just want to talk and have not given much thought to the different disciplines. This article from the Irish Times looks at the different trainings and some of the differences between a psychologist a psychotherapist & a psychiatrist.
Talk Therapy Dublin is a counselling & psychotherapy service but can provide referrals and links to allied professionals like Psychology, Mental Health OT & Psychiatry. Please make contact if we can be of any help.
While mental health is certainly very much part of the national conversation these days it is disturbing to hear regularly how many aspects of our mental health service remain many years behind.
A clear illustration of this in a recent Irish Times article describes a situation where over 6000 individuals are awaiting counselling services through the HSE with over 1200 waiting 3 months or more. There seems to be particularly disturbing backlogs in the West of Ireland & North Dublin. Many of these individuals could be extremely vulnerable and may not have the resources to access private or alternative services.
Recently in my own practice I became aware of an individual who recently made a serious attempt to complete suicide but through complete chance was prevented.
This vulnerable person ended up being referred by a GP to the A&E department of a major hospital where they ended up walking out due to pure frustration waiting. They were to be contacted by phone as a follow up to this visit which apparently, unbelievably, has still not occurred weeks on. This individual & his network were not aware of the alternative free supports available even those provided by well known organizations such as Pieta house.
Luckily in this instance friends and family have rallied around and got the information & support required shoring up this deficit but for such a high risk individual’s life to be left to chance is extremely disturbing and seems to highlight the vestiges of an archaic, disconnected system with regards to identifying appropriate care for vulnerable people and their mental health.
What does an Occupational Therapist (OT) do?
An Occupational Therapy intervention can be invaluable to a person’s well-being but the reality is not enough people in Ireland know what OT’s do or what OT services are available to them, specifically in terms of Mental Health.
What is Mental Health OT?
Mental Health OT can offer support if your mental health interferes with your ability to do the activities necessary for living your life.
- If social anxiety prevents you from meeting friends, forming relationships or going to work.
- If depression stops you from getting to your exercise class or your GP appointment.
- If issues around your physical health are putting a strain on your mental health
A Mental Health OT can intervene to assess what difficulties a client is having with their routine and support them to manage the mental health challenges while living a meaningful life.
OT’s work holistically alongside a person with the perspective that the person, occupation and environment are all interlinked. OT’s will address each of these areas with you to ensure that all the barriers to living a meaningful life are being worked on.
How is OT different from seeing a Counsellor or a psychologist?
- An OT can meet you wherever you need to meet e.g. at work, at home, at the local café, in the library and so on. By engaging in occupational therapy in a real life scenario you have the opportunity to actively work on your goals in a safe way. Your goals will drive where and when the meetings happen.
- For example, let’s imagine that your goal is to be able to meet a friend for a coffee. Currently your experience of social anxiety prevents you from doing so. Your OT may meet you at home over several sessions to help you to learn about anxiety (what are your triggers, warning signs, management strategies, relaxation approaches etc) so that you can eventually work towards leaving your home and meeting your OT for walk, then maybe outside the coffee shop, then inside, and eventually supporting you to meet that friend in the local coffee shop.
- Like a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist, a Mental Health OT can help you to engage in “talk therapy” however this isn’t the main focus of the sessions. Counselling & Psychotherapy are an incredibly valuable process for lots of people, but not for everyone. OT’s work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals so that a person’s entire needs are being met.
Talk Therapy Dublin have linked in with Anchor Therapy to provide a Mental Health OT option for certain clients.
Mental Health OT’s work as part of the Community Mental Health teams in the HSE and in some NGO’s around Ireland. To learn more about OT in Ireland go to www.aoti.ie.