General psychiatrists are specialists who work with a range of patients. They are typically found in environments such as hospitals and community clinics and deal with issues such as drug rehabilitation, substance abuse and liaison psychiatry.

A general psychiatrist would need extensive knowledge of all three of these categories, but there may be the opportunity to specialise in just one. A general psychiatrist will usually work as part of a team of psychological professionals, in order to ensure the patient receives the necessary support.

This is a speciality in which one day can be very different to the next, which is why you would need to be of a good professional and organised manner. A general psychiatrist may choose to work in the public sector, drug rehabilitation clinics or may choose to work in a private clinic. To become a general psychiatrist you would need extensive knowledge of the discipline.

Work activities

Typical activities a general psychiatrist would need to undertake include:

  • Deal with issues to do with drug rehabilitation, anxiety, phobias, personality disorders, schizophrenia, depression, insomnia and sleeping disorders.
  • You may have to work in a hospital, general practice or private clinic.
  • Use your extensive knowledge of psychological issues to diagnose patients and recommend them the necessary treatment.
  • Prescribe patients with medication.
  • Use treatments such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Continue to study in order to keep up-to-date with any new psychological ideas and concepts.
  • Work with a host of other professionals, including counsellors other psychiatrists.
  • Uphold a certain level of confidentiality.
  • Try to put patients at ease in order for them to open up about their troubles and anxieties.
  • Analyse and update patient records to ensure they are given the best treatment.
  • Work with patients over a long period of time.

Essential skills

  • Desire to help people overcome their problems.
  • Able to continue studying in order to learn of any new concepts and theories in the psychological discipline.
  • A calm manner when dealing with patients in order to put them at ease.
  • Strong communication and written skills.
  • Able to work as part of a team of medical professionals and as an individual.
  • Leadership qualities.
  • Aptitude for the psychological discipline.
  • Trusting manner.
  • Professional and organised manner.
  • Able to know when patients should be prescribed medication.