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How to Choose a Good Psychiatrist

Picking a psychiatrist out of the phone book doesn't guarantee a good doctor. Here's how to choose a good psychiatrist. More at Breaking Bipolar blog.

I have said to people many times – your psychiatrist works for you. You pay the psychiatrist. They are your employee. That means you’re the one who decides if they are hired or fired. But choosing a psychiatrist is no mean feat as someone who others consider “good” may not be “good” for you. So the only thing to do is to research and interview a doctor – just as you would any employee.

Who Makes a Good Psychiatrist?

This is actually an easy question to answer. While “good” is different to each person, one thing remains the same: a good psychiatrist is one that you’re happy with. That’s all. A good psychiatrist is one that performs to your expectations – whatever those are.

Research to Find a Good Psychiatrist

The first step in finding a doctor is picking one out of the heap and researching them. The easiest way I know to do this is through websites like HealthGrades.com. It allows you to find doctors by name, specialty, and location. But what’s better is that it provides feedback on the doctors including a background check which is excellent information to have before you walk into a doctor’s office.

Interview to Find Out if the Psychiatrist Is Good for You

Once you’ve found a doctor and made an appointment, you need to decide what to ask a doctor to find out if they’re a good fit for you. While on first meeting, a doctor is going to be interviewing you, you should be interviewing them too.

What you ask depends on what you care about in a doctor and in your treatment. Here are some of the things I might ask:

  1. Do you provide psychotherapy? What is your view on bipolar and psychotherapy?
  2. What is your view on supplements and alternative medicine?
  3. What is your treatment philosophy?
  4. How often do you see your patients? How long are appointments?
  5. What happens if I have an emergency outside office hours?

On top of that, I might ask other question about my specific medications, treatments and other points of view that are specific to me.

These questions are about opening up a dialog on issues that matter to you. It’s not about judgement as much as it is about exploration. You’re testing the waters to see if this is the person you think is most able to help you. Try not to be intimidated by them just because they are a doctor.

If a Psychiatrist Doesn’t Seem Good for You

Some psychiatrists will not meet your expectations. This is OK. Not every doctor is for every person and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with either of you. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It’s just like a first date. First dates don’t always lead to second dates and that’s OK.

Now is the easiest time to say something simple like, “I don’t think we’re the best therapeutic match; could you provide a referral to someone else, please?”

And remember to be polite. A doctor may not be used to be interviewed by the patient and may be taken aback for a moment. So thank them for taking the time to answer your questions. A trusting relationship with your doctor is a two-way street so treat the doctor with the same respect you expect from them.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

17 thoughts on “How to Choose a Good Psychiatrist”

  1. Finding the right psychiatrist is a difficult task to do. It should be someone you you can trust as well as a person you feel can understand you. I hadn’t ever thought about the questions to ask the doctor while seeing them for the first time. You can learn a lot about them and how they will be able to help you by finding those answers. If I’m ever in need of a psychiatrist, I’ll be sure to learn about them.

  2. My sister was telling me that she might need to see a psychiatrist, and I was curious about how she would find the right one. It’s interesting that you say to interview them and see what kind of treatments they use. It would be nice to make sure that she is comfortable with everything.

  3. I think it’s a really good idea to actually interview the doctor that you want to go with. Like you said, it is important that they are a good fit for you. Plus, I think it’s a good opportunity to see just how nice and orderly the psychiatrist’s office is. If the office doesn’t have a friendly atmosphere, then it could be a lot harder for you to actually make it to your appointments.

  4. My sister has been struggling with some severe depression and anxiety for a few months now. She has decided to see a psychiatrist, so she can try to overcome it. I agree that it is important to ask about an emergency, and what the doctor would do in that situation. It is always better to be prepared. I will pass this on to my sister.

  5. Ah, if it were only that easy… Psychiatrists are specialists and as such you often require a referral of some type in my area. Sometimes you get stuck on a wait list before you get in. I’ve tried shopping around but most of the really good doctors aren’t taking any new patients. I just happened to get lucky. My doctor recently moved to Canada from England and I was one of his first patients. Things have seemed to work out well for me so far.

    For those that are interested there’s also a website called ratemds.com for Canada and the USA that’s very similar to HealthGrades.com. The doctors are broken down by specialty, location and gender and are rated by patients and their experience with them. Some of the newer doctors may not yet be listed.

  6. Finding doctors through websites is a good option.Knowing them by name and location is good and getting feedback and background will be great information to patients. Thanks for sharing informative post.

  7. RE: Healthgrade.com for a p-doc is for U.S./ is there any similar place like this for Canadians.

    I do have a p-doc now which i was referred to by my physician, but up in here in Canada it is not that easy to get a psychiatrist. I had been waiting along time to get one and i had to keep checking with my physician for a couple years if there was one available. I dont’ have a therapist either and am seeking one now. I used to have a counsellor but she moved just over a year ago, & haven’t seen one since.

    Any info or help wud be appreciated.

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