How to Find a Good Psychiatrist

Ryan Dube's image for:
"How to Find a Good Psychiatrist"
Image by: 

Finding a psychiatrist can be one of the most overwhelming and intimidating experiences a person has to suffer through. Considering that anyone who needs a psychiatrist is already battling difficult and stressful circumstances, this additional stress can often become too much for many people. This is why it can be very useful to have a few handy tips for finding a good psychiatrist available when you are searching for a counselor who is right for you.


First, and most importantly, there are two critical facts to keep in mind when you are testing the waters of psychiatry. Number one, don't assume that every psychiatrist is a well trained expert who knows how to make an accurate diagnosis. Secondly, don't assume that all psychiatrists are clueless fruitcakes who don't know what they're talking about. While those two statements appear conflicting, after you visit a couple of psychiatrists, you'll quickly recognize why both pieces of advice are important to understand.

* The clueless expert: You know when you are in front of a behavioral "expert" of this variety when they treat you like a guinea pig. One month, you have a diagnosis of bipolar and you're put on an anti-anxiety medicine, a mood stabilizer, and a sleeping pill. The next month you're diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on higher levels of mood stabilizer and anti-psychotics. Does this sound like a nightmare to you? It's reality. And it happens every day in the world of Psychiatric treatment.

* The non-fruitcake: You've visited three different psychiatrists within the past ten months, and each one has turned into a nightmare. Don't be surprised when you suddenly come across a psychiatrist who actually appears to know what he's doing.

So how do you tell the difference between a mad scientist and a professional Psychiatrist? The following tips for finding a good psychiatrist will help.


1. Listening Skills: A good psychiatrist will sit, facing you, and listen intently as you describe how you're feeling. There won't be any computer work, paper shuffling, or any activity that makes you feel as though you are just another distraction in the daily grind.

2. Tweaking in moderation: Instead of massive medicine changes every month, a good psychiatrist will change one medicine at a time, and only very slightly. Each visit, the psychiatrist should ask you about any changes in mood, physical symptoms, and any general improvement or decline in your overall sense of well-being and happiness. The goal of every good psychiatrist is to, in time, bring you to a stable level where you are mostly content, and can cope with difficult feelings in a healthy way.

3. Family knows best: A good psychiatrist will ask for the feedback of any immediate family members who may be providing many of your care-giving while you are working on your mental illness. The psychiatrist prefer to get input from your spouse or even your parents before making an initial diagnosis. Always be wary of a diagnosis offered within just one visit.

4. Collaboration: Psychiatrists who are well established within the mental health community understand the importance of a well rounded and holistic therapy. This means that talk counseling and group therapy are just as important as medicine when dealing with mental illness. People who are struggling through depression or different psychosis often feel isolated, hopeless, and powerless. A good psychiatrist will promote the idea that talk counseling can help with learning better coping mechanisms, that group therapy will help with establishing a feeling that there is, in fact, hope for the future.

5. Good communication: A psychiatrist who is well trained has an excellent "bedside manner." This means that you feel comfortable and relaxed when talking to them. They are often soft-spoken and gentle, and they allow you the time to express what you're feeling emotionally as well as physically. They also take the time to describe a course of therapy that they believe will help you, and they will outline what you can expect over the coming months, in a fair and honest way.


In addition to the tips above, some additional tips for finding a good psychiatrist include looking for one that has a personality that "jives" with yours. He or she is a person who you feel comfortable asking difficult questions, and who shows sincere concern for your well-being, your happiness, and your health. Obviously, the psychiatrist you choose should be covered by your insurance policy, if you have one. But just as importantly, a good psychiatrist will understand the limitations of every insurance policy, and they should be flexible enough to negotiate lower prices for you if and when your policy claims you've run out of visits for the year, even though additional visits are necessary.

While all of the traits above may seem impossible to find all in one Psychiatrist, believe it or not there are a great many mental health practitioners who do exemplify every one of those characteristics. It's the nature of the mental health field that you may need to hunt around and try out a few before making a selection. But if you take the time to shop around, you are sure to find one that suits your needs, and ultimately leads to a much more successful therapy in the end.

More about this author: Ryan Dube

From Around the Web