Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

A. A psychiatrist is a licensed physician with a medical degree who has specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. Psychiatrists attend four years of medical school and are licensed physicians. To become a psychiatrist, they complete an additional four years of training in a psychiatric residency program (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist also complete a Child and Adolescent fellowship of two years duration.) After completing their training, psychiatrists take written and oral board examinations. Psychiatrists are licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners in the state in which they practice.

Most psychologists have a doctoral degree, either a Ph.D.(doctor of philosophy) or a Psy.D. (doctor of psychology). They are not medical doctors. A psychologist treats mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychologists are trained to conduct psychotherapy, psychological evaluations, testing and research.

Q. What does it mean when a physician is board certified?

A. To become board certified, a psychiatrist must pass written and oral examinations administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Recertification is required at ten-year intervals. Continuing medical education is required in order to maintain the certification as well as medical licensure.

Most APS psychiatrists are board certified. APS expects all “board eligible” physicians to become board certified.

Q. Will I have to see a psychiatrist?

A. Your first visit will be with a licensed therapist or a psychiatrist. Your individual needs and condition will be assessed. If your first visit is with a therapist, the therapist may recommend that you also be evaluated by one of the psychiatrists depending on the acuity of your needs.

The psychiatrist will evaluate your overall mental health and your general medical condition. There are many physical and medical conditions that may influence a person’s behavior, mood and energy levels. With your involvement, a treatment plan for continued care will be developed by the professional staff.

Q. How do I make an appointment?

A. Appointments can be made by calling the APS office in the location that is most convenient to you.

Q. How do I know if I need help?

A. If you are experiencing difficulties in conducting your usual daily responsibilities such as work, home responsibilities, or are experiencing excessive worrying, sadness, frustration, irritability, anger, changes in mood, or have noticed a change in your enjoyment of life, these could be signals that you may need professional help. It is best to contact a professional mental health provider for an evaluation to help determine your need for treatment.

Q. Do you treat children?

A. Yes. The APS provider network includes psychiatrists and therapists who have specialized in the treatment of children and adolescents. These providers are located throughout the state.

Q. Will I have to take medications?

A. Each patient is evaluated on an individual basis. The psychiatrist will carefully evaluate your particular needs and situation to determine if medications are necessary as part of your treatment. Not all conditions require medications. Sometimes counseling and therapy is all that is needed. The use of medications is based on the individual needs of each patient.

Q. Do you accept my insurance?

A. APS accepts the following insurance plans:

BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, EPS,EPF, EPX benefit plans
ITS Host (most other BCBS plans outside of Alabama)
State Employee Insurance Board (SEIB)
Blue Advantage
ALL Kids
Individual Blue

Q. Will I need to go to a psychiatric hospital?

A. Each patient receives a thorough evaluation. There are many levels of care and treatment available for mental health and substance abuse conditions. The psychiatrist carefully considers your condition and situation in order to determine the treatment approach and level of care that best meets your individual needs.

Inpatient hospitalization is just one of many levels of care and is usually used if someone is medically unstable or is at risk to hurt themselves or others.

Other levels of care include: Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient Programs, outpatient counseling and therapy.

APS has arrangements with inpatient facilities around the state. In the event hospitalization is necessary, the treatment facility that is most convenient and which best meets your treatment needs will be recommended.