Consultation is one of the main professional activities of psychiatrists. Nearly 70% of the respondents to a 1970 nationwide survey of American psychiatrists stated that they engaged in it.1 Consultation accounted for about 10% of their working time and was practiced in 18 different settings. Consultation was not explicitly defined in the survey, but it was distinguished from direct patient contact. Thus, by implication, the authors of the survey and the respondents considered consultation to be an indirect service, one not involving contact with patients. This view of psychiatric consultation is not shared by all of its practitioners. There is no general agreement on what the term implies. Such ambiguity leads to misunderstandings. Clarification is worth attempting if we are to talk intelligibly about the role of the psychiatrist as a consultant. I will focus my discussion on current concepts and controversies in this important area of psychiatry.
KeywordsMental Health Psychosomatic Medicine Psychiatric Consultation Positive Mental Health Caregiving Professional
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