What does a Psychiatric Technician do?

What is a Psychiatric Technician?

Psychiatric technicians care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Technicians typically provide therapeutic care. Psychiatric technicians work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and related healthcare settings. They may spend much of their shift on their feet, and they have a relatively high rate of injury.

What does a Psychiatric Technician do?

Psychiatric technicians typically do the following:

  • Observe patients’ behaviour, listen to their concerns, and record their condition
  • Lead patients in therapeutic and recreational activities
  • Give medications and other treatments, following instructions from doctors and other medical professionals
  • Help with admitting and discharging patients
  • Monitor patients’ vital signs, such as their blood pressure
  • Help patients with activities of daily living, including eating and bathing
  • Restrain patients who may become physically violent
  • Monitoring patients’ behaviour and location in a mental healthcare facility
  • Help patients with their daily living activities, such as bathing or dressing
  • Serve meals and help patients eat
  • Help keep facilities clean by doing tasks such as changing bed linens
  • Interact with patients, leading them in educational or therapeutic activities
  • Participate in group activities, such as playing sports or going on field trips
  • Help transport patients within a hospital or residential care facility
  • Restrain patients who may become physically violent.

Many psychiatric technicians work with patients who are severely developmentally disabled and need intensive care. Others work with patients undergoing rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. Their work varies depending on the types of patients they work with.

Psychiatric technicians work as part of a medical team, under the direction of physicians and alongside other healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, and therapists. Because they have such close contact with patients, psychiatric technicians can have a great deal of influence on patients' outlook and treatment.

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How to become a Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric technicians typically enter the occupation with a postsecondary certificate. Programs in psychiatric or mental health technology are commonly offered by community colleges and technical schools. Psychiatric technician programs include courses in biology, psychology, and counselling. The programs also may include supervised work experience or cooperative programs, in which students gain academic credit for structured work experience.

Programs for psychiatric technicians range in length from one semester to two years, and they may award a certificate or an associate’s degree. They typically must participate in on-the-job training before they can work without direct supervision. This training may last for a few weeks or for several months. Training may include gaining hands-on experience while working under the supervision of an experienced technician or aide. Technicians may also attend workshops, lectures, or in-service training.

What is the workplace of a Psychiatric Technician like?

Psychiatric technicians work in psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and related healthcare settings, such as drug or alcohol treatment centers. They may spend much of their shift on their feet. Some of the work that psychiatric aides do may be unpleasant. They may care for patients whose illnesses make them disoriented, uncooperative, or violent.