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Psychiatry is a branch of medicine where doctors treat people with mental illness. There is still much to explore and discover about the human brain, the field of psychiatry never stops evolving as we learn, research and develop new cutting-edge treatments and therapies.


Career Paths

Types of Psychiatry

Psychiatry includes a variety of different fields & roles, here's a short guide to some of the main specialisms. To learn more about these and other career options within psychiatry, come along to one of our events, for the chance to hear from real health care professionals and chat to current medical students. 

Types of psychiatry

General Adult 


This branch of psychiatry involves treating adults with mental illness. General adult psychiatrists work with patients who have severe depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, mania and anxiety. They assess & treat patients in crisis, including people who have attempted suicide or patients frightened because of psychotic (unreal) beliefs – for instance that they are being followed by people who plan to hurt them.


These doctors can subspecialise within this discipline to work in areas such as eating disorders. They use medical investigations, for example, blood tests and scans, to aid diagnoses (what is wrong) before considering potential treatments including medications, electroconvulsive therapy and talking therapies.

Register your interest in attending our next Medicine Calling event here.

Types of psychiatry



Medical psychotherapists are doctors who specialise in providing talking therapies. They provide treatment for patients over long periods to cure chronic & disabling mental illness. There are a variety of different talking therapies, with specific models of therapy being used for particular conditions.


These doctors provide one-to-one therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy, & group or family therapy. All talking therapies enable patients to understand themselves better, improve how they interact with the people around them, & aim to improve their quality of life.

Why choose Psychiatry?

All psychiatrists are qualified doctors, so have studied medicine at university. 

There are lots of different routes into studying medicine at university but all medicine courses will look at your GCSEs (or equivalents) and universities will look for high grades – so pick up those books!


Next, most universities will usually ask for two science subjects at A-level (or equivalent) and not many universities accept BTECs or T-level qualifications for medicine. So make sure you pick the right subjects and qualifications to allow you to study medicine in the future!


Good to know: Some universities now offer a medicine with a foundation year or gateway year course. This is an additional year at university to help you learn all of the skills needed to succeed in medicine. These degrees often have slightly lower entry requirements, for example GCSE grades, which you may want to explore further.


Buckle up! It’s time to enrol at a medical school for a 5 or 6 year undergraduate degree. Medical Schools are often part of a university, but will have strong links to local hospitals and medical practices.


After medical school, you’ll start working in the NHS and complete a 2 year foundation programme where you’ll get experience in a number of different medical specialties, such as GP, Psychiatry or surgery.


Once you have completed your foundation programme, you can apply for training to become a general psychiatrist or choose a particular specialism.

How do I become a psychiatrist? 

Curious about science and medicine?

Interested in what makes people tick?

Want to change people's lives for the better?

A career in psychiatric medicine could be for you!

Types of psychiatry

Forensic Psychiatry

In this specialty, medicine meets the law. Forensic psychiatrists work closely with the police & criminal justice system. They provide care & treatment in secure hospitals for patients who have carried out very serious offences due to their mental illness, & treat prison inmates.


Forensic psychiatrists will often act as an expert witness in court, where they are asked to assess whether a person’s mental state has impaired their ability to understand what is right and wrong at the point they committed a crime. These doctors require good clinical knowledge & advanced understanding of criminal & mental health law.

Types of psychiatry

Intellectual Disability Psychiatry

Psychiatrists in this field work with adults with learning disabilities. These patients are more likely to experience mental illness, anxiety, depression & psychosis. Adults with learning difficulties can sometimes find it much harder to communicate their needs so even minor problems can have a severe effect. Doctors in this field require good clinical skills because their patients often have other complex physical health problems that they also look after, for example, epilepsy.


These psychiatrists work with a variety of other professionals to provide patient–centred community care, which enables people with learning disabilities to live supported but independent & fulfilling lives.

Types of psychiatry

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Child & adolescent psychiatrists work with children & young adults with a range of emotional and psychiatric disorders. Typically, they help young people with behavioural problems, anxiety, depression & self-harm. They might choose to specialise in areas such as learning disabilities, eating disorders, young offenders or with children who are looked after or adopted.  


Children & adolescent psychiatrists work closely with families and carers, as well as a variety of other professionals including child psychologists, nurses, teachers and social services.


These doctors provide a range of treatments including individual talking therapies, family therapy & medication.

“I love working with children, I get involved with the patient holistically, it’s not just about seeing the patient, it’s about their family, their school”


Dr Neeley, Consultant Psychiatrist

“If you enjoy talking to people, finding out what they are like, what makes them tic, then psychiatry

is absolutely perfect for you!”

Dr Michael, Psychiatry Core Trainee

“With psychiatry, every patient is different. Each story you hear is unique”

Dr Sam, Psychiatry Higher Trainee

“The best thing about being a psychiatrist is seeing the impact you have on patients and their


Dr Harlene, Psychiatry Core Trainee

Why we love our jobs...

Why we love our jobs...

A specialism that’s truly fascinating

A role that's truly rewarding.


'The human brain is the most complex structure in the universe.'

Robin Murray Professor of Psychiatric Research at King's College London. 

A career in psychiatry.

A specialism that’s truly fascinating.

A role that's truly rewarding.

‘The human brain is the most complex thing in the universe'

Robin Murray Professor of Psychiatric Research at King's College London. 

A career in

A specialism that’s truly fascinating.  A role that's truly rewarding.


Types of psychiatry

Old Age 


Old age psychiatrists work with adults over the age of 65 who have a mental illness. As people get older the interaction between their physical, psychiatric & social problems can become very complex. Old age psychiatrists look after people with a wide range of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, & different types of dementia.


These doctors work closely with a variety of professionals & services including nurses, other doctors, social services, occupational therapists & voluntary organisations. 


As an old age psychiatrist, there is a strong focus for caring for people in the community & optimising quality of life for older people & their families.

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