Psychiatric technicians and aides work with individuals with mental illnesses or developmental disorders. Technicians monitor the patient’s health status and offer therapeutic care. Psychiatric aides ensure the cleanliness of the patient’s environment, help with activities, and make sure they are safe in the psychiatric hospitals or facilities they reside in. Watch a video to learn what a psychiatric technician does:
How to Become a Psychiatric Technician
A certificate or associate’s degree in psychiatric or mental health technology is expected for a psychiatric technician. Community colleges and technical schools provide studies in counseling, biology, and psychology and sometimes include supervised work experience or a cooperative program to assist the student to gain structured work experience. Some employers of a psychiatric technician require an applicant to have clinical work experience like a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or nursing assistant (CNA).
A psychiatric aide only requires a minimum of a high school diploma and receives on the job training under the supervision of a veteran psychiatric technician or aide.
Job Description of a Psychiatric Technician
A psychiatric technician or aide typically works with severely developmentally disabled individuals that require intensive care or medical treatment. This includes recording a patient’s condition, watching their behavior, and listening to them. They might work with alcohol and drug addicts that are in the process of rehabilitation.
Depending on the type of patient both assist and are involved with therapeutic and recreational activities. A doctor or medical professional may give instructions to administer medication as well as take vital signs of the patient. They help with admissions and with discharge from the hospital or facility. A psychiatric technician may need to use restraints with some patients that may become agitated or violent.
A psychiatric aide helps monitor a patient. They assist with the necessities of a patient like bathing, dressing them, or helping them eat. He or she changes bed linens and keeping the facilities clean and the environment safe. A psychiatric aide may go on field trips, play games, or perform other activities that engage the patient. They assist in transporting patient’s within the care facility or hospital and may be called to assist in the restraint of a violent patient.
Both a psychiatric technician and aide are employed either full time or part-time and work with a medical team. This may include physicians, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, counselors, and therapists. The psychiatric technician and aide must have compassion and have interpersonal skills to be effective in their job. They should also have observational skills like recognizing any mood changes and maintaining safety at all times.
This job can be emotionally challenging therefore one should have patience and keep calm in stressful situations. Physical stamina is required as this job keeps one on their feet for long hours and requires lifting, moving, and restraining a patient. Psychiatric technicians and aides are employed in various health care settings, psychiatric hospitals, and residential mental health facilities caring for patients as part of a medical team working under a physician’s direction.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychiatric Technicians and Aides.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2053.00. O*NET OnLine.