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What kind of therapist can help with medication management?

Therapists cannot prescribe psychiatric medications but can refer patients to psychiatrists, who can. Nonetheless, a licensed therapist with expertise in a patient’s condition and a background in psychotropic medication can offer general guidance about medication management. Therapists may be particularly helpful in addressing behavioral strategies surrounding the use of medication, such as how to adhere to medication in the event that a client is forgetful or experiences unpleasant side effects. It’s best for patients and therapists to work together for some time before discussing medication so that the therapist has an accurate assessment of the patient’s needs. Therapists can also help a client monitor their medications and note what seems effective and what is less so.

Do only psychiatrists help with medication management?

Only psychiatrists or other doctors, like primary care physicians, can prescribe psychiatric medications, with the exception of several states in which trained psychologists may gain limited prescribing rights due to a shortage of psychiatrists. They have the expertise to know which drugs can safely mix with each other and which could cause adverse reactions, side effects, or be habit-forming. Psychiatrists are the front-line option if a client experiences unexpected side effects and can adjust dosage or change medications. Therapists can help with medication management by observing and listening to a client and can make recommendations or offer suggestions that can be taken to a psychiatrist.

Do I need to have a full therapy session if I need only medication management?

Many psychiatrists schedule sessions that are shorter in duration than a full therapy session (for example, one half-hour only) to do a medication consult. These may be scheduled less frequently than therapy sessions, for example, every four to eight weeks. Often, but not always, it is recommended that an individual concurrently work with a therapist as well.

Can I talk to a therapist about medication management?

Yes. While therapists cannot prescribe psychiatric drugs, they can provide clients with information on them and help monitor the effects of medications over time. Patients should alert therapists to any side effects they may experience. Clients should also be sure to talk to their prescribing physician. It’s important that a client’s therapist and physician are connected and share information on which drugs a client is taking and how the individual reacts to them.