Do Psychologists prescribe medication?
Psychologists in Canada do not prescribe medications. Psychologists provide psychotherapy, which in many cases, is so effective that medications are not needed. However, in certain circumstances, medications can be very helpful, e.g., in treating bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, burnout, OCD, anxiety, depression, etc. A meeting with a psychologist can help you to determine if medication is needed. If it seems like medications might be helpful to you, your psychologist will suggest for you to meet with a physician, such as a family doctor, a doctor at a walk-in clinic, a doctor in an emergency room, or a psychiatrist. Meeting with a general practitioner, such as a family doctor or doctor at a walk-in clinic, is usually a good starting point for medications. If you need to meet with a specialist, such as a psychiatrist, a general practitioner can refer you to one. Psychiatrists rarely accept referrals from psychologists, since patients cannot be referred back to psychologists to monitor the medications afterward. Therefore, if you need medications, you can meet with a general practitioner first, then be referred by them to a psychiatrist if needed. If you are in crisis and need medication right away, please present yourself at the nearest hospital emergency room.
Most general practitioners (family doctors and walk-in clinic doctors) are used to managing medications for mental health. Only when an expert is needed, would the patient be referred to a psychiatrist, and there are usually long wait times to meet with a psychiatrist. There are a few private psychiatrists in Quebec who accept referrals from patients directly but again might have long waiting lists. Please contact RAMQ to learn which psychiatrists have opted out of RAMQ and are practicing in the private sector.