Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

A Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who, after basic medical qualifications, receives further training in child and adolescent psychiatry and develops the expertise to become a ‘specialist’ in identifying symptoms of, diagnosing and treating conditions that are categorised as ‘mental illnesses’. This includes neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD and Autism, even though they are not classically mental illnesses.  You may be referred to a Psychiatrist if your doctor feels you need specialist assessment, diagnosis and potentially to also discuss the role medication might play in your child or adolescent’s recovery.  A Psychologist can be trained in various sub-speciality areas. At Totally Psyched all our Psychologists are registered professionals with training and experiencing working with children, adolescents and families. A Psychologist has generally undergone extensive training to postgraduate university level in understanding all aspects of psychological functioning. With a particular focus on understanding a child or adolescent and their environment, this leads to diagnosis and the therapeutic treatment of mental illness, abnormal behaviour and psychiatric problems. Psychologists can also provide neuropsychological assessments of brain function including intelligence and attention for example, or at the specialist level (with a Paediatric Neuropsychologist) more complex neuropsychological systems and their relationship to functioning, including recommendations on appropriate supports at school and home.

Is medication all that a Psychiatrist will recommend and will I have to take it?

Absolutely not – to both questions. Information about medication can be provided by one our Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists but this only one aspect of care, is fully discussed and ultimately it is always a family’s decision whether this is what they feel is a useful option for them and their child. We respect our families decisions as we understand there are often many factors to consider.  Other non-medication treatment options will be discussed and are often recommended ahead of medication. The Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists at Totally Psyched are all very experienced in their field and as such generally take a conservative approach to medication, always putting the overall needs of the specific child/adolescent first.

Why are there different kinds of Psychologists and what are the differences?

Psychologists can be trained through various pathways. All of the Psychologists at Totally Psyched are experienced specialists in working with children, adolescents and families but their training can differ. All Psychologists are required to undertake undergraduate and postgraduate University degrees, with some to the Doctoral level (as indicated by their ‘Dr’ professional title).  Please follow this link to information provided by the NZ Professional Psychological Board about the different Psychologists scopes of practice

If I see a Psychiatrist and they recommend some psychological therapy do I have to wait very long?

Not usually. We prioritise all our families that have already been welcomed in to our practice – which is why there can be quite a wait for an initial appointment!

Why can there be a long wait until I can get an appointment for our child/adolescent?

We try very hard to meet the needs of our families who wish to come in a timely manner but the amount who wish to come and see us sometimes outweighs the amount of time the Psychiatrist and Psychologists have available. Once a family has come to see us, we need to make sure we have enough time to see them and meet their needs, and in order to do this we need to space out our appointments to ensure this. We are very sorry if you do have to wait and will always endeavour to make your child/adolescent a priority as soon as possible. We can offer a cancellation waitlist and if you are able to be flexible this can often be a good way of getting an appointment sooner.

What do I say to my child/adolescent about our upcoming appointment and what to expect?

For children, we often recommend explaining that you are going to see a special doctor, ‘brain coach’ or ‘therapist’ who helps families and children to feel happier or to work out how they’re brain works so everyone can understand them (and potentially help them) better.  For adolescents, perhaps explain they are going to see a specialist doctor or psychologist who will help all of you work out what is going on, why things are so hard/difficult, and help you/them figure out what to do to make things better. At the initial assessment appointment you can expect to meet with the Psychiatrist/Psychologist together initially, where you will talk together about any concerns you may have. You will also be given the option to privately speak about any concerns/give information separately as adults and time will also be spent one on one with the adolescent/child. During the first appointment we often ask “a zillion questions” so we can get as accurate a picture as possible, as understanding your child/adolescent and family is essential to making the right recommendations/treatment plan. At the end of the first appointment, together you will make a plan with the Psychologist/Psychiatrist.

Why do I need to wait to make an appointment after I’ve filled in the ‘New Patient Referral Form’, why can’t I make an appointment straight away?

After receiving your information, the Clinical Director Dr Sarah Watson looks through every new referral personally. She knows the team’s areas of expertise really well and will make recommendations as to which Psychologists/Psychiatrists will likely be the very best matches to your child/adolescent. These decisions are based on the specific clinician’s skills, experience and their professional interests so you will have the very best fit. We usually try to provide you with multiple choices and encourage you and your child/adolescent look at this website to see who you/they might prefer.

Why do I get sent questionnaires (psychometric assessments) before my first appointment and why does the teacher need to fill one out too?

For some specialist assessments we like to make the appointment as efficient as possible so appreciate being able to collect information ahead of the appointment to read and consider prior to
seeing you and your child/adolescent. As neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions often affect a young person in many aspects of their lives it is important for us to assess the impact and breadth of this impact, and so like to obtain information from teachers.

Is my information kept private and confidential?

In short, yes it is. We keep all of your information in a highly secured and regularly backed up digital clinical management system that is separate from anything and anyone other than our clinical team. It is important to note that in the case of any safety concerns to a young person all clinicians are professionally mandated to ensure the safety of that child/adolescent. Usually, this means speaking with our parents and making a plan to ensure the safety of that child/adolescent. Very seldomly, we may need to speak with external agencies in order to obtain appropriate help.