Mental Health Care Treatment In Dubai


Dr. Annette Schonder
Marriage Counselor (American Board) 
Phone: 00971-4-4574240


The History of Psychology

The origins of psychology can be traced back to Aristotle who was born 384 BC in northern Greece. He made first formal studies of everyday actions of living people as they reasoned, remembered, learned, and attempted to persuade one another. Aristotle used the term psyche to refer to the essence of life. This term is usually translated today to mean soul or mind, but it is closely related in meaning to the word breath. The word psychology comes from Aristotle`s word psyche plus the Greek word logos signifying “the study of.” It was not until 1879 that the formal discipline of psychology was launched by Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, Germany. Some historians feel that William James deserves the honor for a less publicized laboratory at Harvard University which opened in 1875.

Today the discipline of psychology has branched out into many different areas.  The American Psychological Association (APA) defines psychology in the following way:  “Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, “the understanding of behavior” is the enterprise of psychologists.”

Treatment Professionals in Dubai

The focus of this article is on mental health and the professionals who provide treatments, for anxiety, depression, addictions, and bipolar disorders, to restore mental health.  The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains, “mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors are uniquely educated and qualified to promote this kind of well-being.

How to Find Treatment?

Persons wishing to improve their mental and behavioral health in Dubai, can seek the services of qualified mental health care professionals. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are regulated in most parts of the world, including Dubai, and must meet educational and internship requirements to fulfill licensing standards to be able to offer their services to the public.  Counselors and psychologists in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) are required to hold a minimum of a master’s degree, or a doctorate from an accredited Western University in a mental health related major, must show proof of successfully completing a supervised internship, must hold a license in their country of origin, and must have years of experience.  These stringent requirements for licensure assure that a person seeking treatment in Dubai will be in qualified hands.

What Treatments Do Psychologists and Counselors Provide?

These mental health professionals, licensed in Dubai, are educated in psychology and various therapeutic approaches. They will use their theoretical knowledge of mental and behavioral health and evidence based treatment methods to provide services for any mental health disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM), the most common ones being, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.  Some evidence based treatment methods are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which teaches people new ways of thinking to improve their well-being.  CBT also addresses symptoms and underlying causes of anxiety and depression. When people behave in unhealthy ways, stressors and triggers can be identified and managed to treat binge drinking, or anger control problems. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is particularly helpful when people are routinely overwhelmed by strong feelings. Grief counseling can help the bereaved process their loss to be able to move forward with their own lives. Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) helps individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD).

What Treatments Do Psychiatrists Provide?

Psychiatrists prescribe medication to treat mental health disorders.  These medications act on the brain to decrease symptoms and improve or restore mental health.  There often is confusion about the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists.  The most important distinction between these professionals is that psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) with specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and they prescribe psychotropic medication.  They have a unique understanding of the brain’s neurochemistry, and their background in medicine gives them the knowledge to understand the body`s functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and medical illness. They are best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress.

There are clear diagnostic guidelines that are followed in psychiatric evaluations. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders (DSM) is used as a standard for mental health diagnoses. While there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, the five (5) major categories of mental illness are: (a) anxiety disorders, (b) mood disorders, (c) schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, (d) dementias and (f) eating disorders. In most cases symptoms can be managed with counseling (psychotherapy) and medication.

Whom Do You See for Treatment?  A Psychologist/Counselor or Psychiatrist?

This depends on the type of therapy someone needs.  If medication is required, the psychiatrist is the right treatment professional.  To talk things through and acquire cognitive tools, to manage thoughts, situations, and feelings, or to go deeper into subconscious conflicts and desires, a psychologist/counselor is the right choice.  Most people don’t know if they need medication to treat their anxiety, depression, or obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.  And some conditions, in general, require psychiatric and psychotherapeutic attention. A good approach is to speak to a qualified psychologist or counselor who during the initial meeting can assess whether a referral to a psychiatrist for further evaluation is indicated. When someone experiences a rapid decline in their daily functioning, or shows other signs of serious mental illness, then the first choice would be to see a psychiatrist.  In many cases, medication and psychotherapy combined are the best treatment option, which is called “pharmacotherapy.”  In such cases, these respective treatment professionals, at CHMC in Dubai, work as a treatment team to provide this type of comprehensive treatment.