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Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Services at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System provide diagnostic assessment and treatment of emotional, behavioral and mental disorders in adults ages 18 and older. We provide a safe and nurturing environment as part of a continuum of care that promotes mental health recovery and support. Depending on your needs as a patient, you may work with psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, case management specialists and social workers to coordinate care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (completed medical school and residency) with special training in psychiatry. A psychiatrist is able to conduct psychotherapy and prescribe medications and other medical treatments. Psychiatrists often prescribe medications in combination with psychotherapy.

A psychologist or therapist usually has an advanced degree, most commonly in clinical psychology, and often has extensive training in research or clinical practice. Psychologists treat mental disorders with psychotherapyand some specialize in psychological testing and evaluation.

How are patients diagnosed?

As physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical laboratory and psychological tests which, when combined with discussions with patients, help provide a picture of a patient's physical and mental state. Their education and clinical training equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses and their relationship to genetics and family history. Evaluating medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with patients to develop treatment plans.

What is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner?

Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRN) serve the psychiatric-mental health population. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) earn master’s or doctoral degrees in psychiatric-mental health nursing. APRNs practice as Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) or Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders, using their full scope of therapeutic skills, including the prescription of medication and the administration of psychotherapy.

What treatment options are available?

Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, psychosocial interventions and other treatments, depending on the needs of each patient.

Most medications are used by psychiatrists in much the same way that medications are used to treat high blood pressure or diabetes. After completing evaluations, psychiatrists may prescribe medications that can help correct imbalances in brain chemistry that are thought to be involved in some mental disorders. Patients on long-term medication treatment will need to meet with their psychiatrist periodically to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and any potential side effects.

Psychiatrists often prescribe medications in combination with psychotherapy.

What is psychiatry?

Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing voices. Or they may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift; problems functioning, or troubles that cause everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing. Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.

Psychotherapy has been shown to improve emotions and behaviors and to be linked with positive changes in the brain and body. The benefits also include fewer sick days, less disability, fewer medical problems, and increased work satisfaction.

What can I expect from a psychotherapy session?

Most sessions are 45 to 60 minutes long. Both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in psychotherapy. The trust and relationship between a person and his/her therapist is essential to working together effectively and benefiting from psychotherapy. Confidentiality is a basic requirement of psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy can be short-term (a few sessions), dealing with immediate issues, or long-term (months or years), dealing with longstanding and complex issues. The goals of treatment and arrangements for how often and how long to meet are planned jointly by the patient and therapist.

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