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:
- Do you provide psychotherapy? What is your view on bipolar and psychotherapy?
- What is your view on supplements and alternative medicine?
- What is your treatment philosophy?
- How often do you see your patients? How long are appointments?
- 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.