If you are reading this article, chances are you've come here with some reason to believe your psychiatrist is not legitimate. There are red flags of quackishness and pale pink flags of quackishness. The red flags, are obviously the easiest to spot.
Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can write prescriptions. So one of the biggest red flags is a psychiatrist too eager to write you prescriptions. If you go into a psychiatrist's office and say, "I'm depressed," and he slaps a script for Prozac in your hand and sends you on your way, that's a quack. You want to look for a psychiatrist that uses medication as a last resort, one that talks to you and helps you through individual therapy if that is all you need, one that will use individual therapy and medication concurrently if need be. But a pill-happy psychiatrist is most assuredly inept.
If your psychiatrist invalidates your feelings in any overt way, you might be seeing a quack. Even if the psychiatrist believes you are being irrational, it is their job to understand where you're coming from before leading you to a more rational way of thinking, if that's what they think you need. To put it bluntly, any psychiatrist who says, "that's ridiculous." To something you said, is a quack. A legitimate psychiatrist can and does disagree with his or her patients, but they would never phrase it so harshly, never make you feel invalidated.
It should go without saying that if a therapist crosses therapist-patient boundaries by asking the patient on a date or repeatedly not respecting your physical personal space (if that's something you've stressed is important to you), or if the therapist talks to you about other patients by name. It is illegal for a therapist to talk about their patients by name, they may do so anonymously or in general but they are never allowed to identify their patients to you or anyone unless they think that person is a serious threat to someone. In this case they should contact authorities.
The last major red flag is if the psychiatrist ever lets their personal beliefs get in the way of their job. If you are a liberal and your psychiatrist is a conservative and you say something about abortion and he or she makes her personal convictions known, that's quackish.
Now for the pale pink flags that depending on the individual situation may or may not be indicative of a quack: Sometimes a psychiatrist might use psycho-babble, might speak over your head. This is a mark of a quack, hiding behind big words memorized from pop-psychology books. A good psychiatrist will use ordinary language to describe what they think might be going on. Any time a psychiatrist is leading you into something you're not comfortable discussing, they should make you feel that you have the power not to talk about something.
One of the most important things to do if you think your therapist is quack is really look at your own specific situation honestly. Ask yourself why you suspect your psychiatrist is a quack. Is she or he telling you something geniunely ridiculous, or are you denying the validity of what he or she is saying because it is something difficult to face? Once you've asked yourself this question, you can determine that you're looking at the situation with a clear head.
As an ending note, I would like to say that just because your psychiatrist doesn't take notes during a session, in no way means that he or she is a quack. It is not a mark of someone being inattentive. Psychiatrists have an obligation to protect and defend the best interests of their patients. Unlike other mental health professionals, they did take the Hippocratic Oath and have promised to, "First, do no harm." It is important to realize that even though there are a few quacks out there, most psychiatrists out there have kept their "First, do no harm" promise.