The term “private psychiatrist” can be used to describe a psychiatrist who maintains a private practice apart from working in a hospital or a community mental health clinic. In the United Kingdom or other countries that have a national health care system, the term “private psychiatrist” can also describe someone who does not participate in the government health care program but instead accepts private insurance or cash from patients. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and may offer a variety of services to their patients, including psychotherapy and medication management.
In many countries, mental health services are available in a variety of contexts. Some institutions, such as hospitals, schools, and prisons, may have one or more psychiatrists on staff to treat patients, students, and inmates. Many communities may also maintain mental health clinics to serve residents in need of care. These clinics may employ psychiatrists to provide assessment, treatment, and medication management for clients. Some psychiatrists, however, prefer to not be affiliated with institutions or may work for an institution or clinic while also maintaining a private practice. In such cases, a private psychiatrist maintains his or her own practice by marketing his or her services to potential patients and handling his or her own business affairs.
In countries where the citizenry has the option of using either a government health care system or maintaining a private health insurance policy or paying cash for services, a private psychiatrist may choose to work outside the government establishment. He or she may establish an entirely private practice or may choose to affiliate with a private hospital or clinic that is not connected to the public health care system. Some patients may prefer to work with a private psychiatrist in countries where the mental health system is overburdened and where it can be difficult to get an appointment for appropriate mental health care.
The reasons why a private psychiatrist may choose to remain unaffiliated with an institution or national health care system vary considerably. In some cases, a psychiatrist may feel that he or she can be more effective by being able to pick and choose his or her patients and provide them with the services that he or she feels are appropriate regardless of institutional or government budgeting constraints. In other cases, a private psychiatrist can simply make more money by treating patients outside a hospital or government health program.