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How to Find a Good Psychiatrist: Essential Tips for Starting Your Search

Many adults today struggle with mental health issues. A psychiatrist can be an important part of a mental health care team, giving you access to complementary medication management and other therapeutic services. But finding a good psychiatrist can be challenging. It’s important to understand:

  1. The key qualities you want to find in your psychiatrist
  2. The credentials that are important
  3. Your mental health needs
  4. Your goals for treatment

All four of these aspects will help you find a successful therapeutic partnership.

how to find a good psychiatrist

How to start your search

Learning how to find a good psychiatrist starts with leveraging professional referrals, using trusted online directories, and then whittling down your results based on insurance and costs.

Leveraging professional referrals

One of the best tips for finding a good psychiatrist is to leverage professional referrals. If you are struggling with a mental health disorder or are worried about your mental health, go to your primary care doctor, therapist, or other healthcare provider and ask for referrals. 

Professionals tend to have referrals that can help you find a good psychiatrist who:

  1. Specializes in the area with which you are struggling
  2. Works within your insurance network 

Using trusted online directories

Use trusted online directories to find psychiatrists in your area or who specialize in your condition. Some examples include:

  • Talkspace
  • BetterHelp
  • Brightside
  • GoodTherapy
  • Psychology Today
  • Teladoc
  • Doctor on Demand
  • LiveHealth Online

Considering insurance and costs

Figuring out how to find a good psychiatrist is only one part of the whole process. Once you find a good psychiatrist, you also have to consider how much they cost and whether or not they accept your insurance.

Federal law requires all health insurance providers to cover the cost of basic mental health services, which includes therapy sessions or mental health treatment, but it may or may not extend to the type of psychiatrist you need or the psychiatrist with whom you want to work.

If they don’t accept your insurance, consider the total cost of treatment based on their projection for your situation and what alternative payment methods are available to you, such as a payment plan or virtual psychiatrist.

Vetting potential psychiatrists

Once you have a list of possible candidates, you might still need help finding a good psychiatrist who meets your needs. To do this, check their credentials, read reviews, and capitalize on your initial consultation.

Checking credentials and experience

Check their credentials and their experience. You may not care as much about where they went to school, but it might be important to know what they specialize in and what types of experience they have.

For example, if you are trying to find a good psychiatrist to help you with schizophrenia, you don’t want to specialize in childhood dysmorphia or personality disorders. You want someone who fits the profile for which you are seeking help.

Reading reviews and testimonials

When vetting potential psychiatrists, be sure to read reviews and testimonials. These reviews will likely come from third-party sites, like review websites or internal mental health websites.

If you are working with someone who is in-network and you received a referral from your primary care physician or other mental health professional, chances are you’ll be able to review testimonials from other clients through a proprietary internal portal provided by your healthcare provider or health insurance provider.

how to find a good psychiatrist

The importance of the initial consultation

Some of the best tips for finding a good psychiatrist have to do with your initial consultation. Every psychiatrist you consider will offer an initial consultation to determine whether or not the relationship is a good fit.

This is important for both parties as a professional psychiatrist wants to ensure that they can provide the assistance needed, and you need to make sure that you get along with them, you trust them, and they seem to fulfill any other pragmatic needs.

Tip: Before your initial consultation with a psychiatrist, make a list of questions you want to ask, which might help you better narrow down your list and make sure it’s a good fit. This might include questions about how they communicate, whether you have insurance coverage for all or part of your sessions, what type of therapies or medications they use, and how they would work with any other mental or physical health professionals who are a part of your care team.

Key considerations and red flags

Be aware that there are some key considerations that can indicate that a relationship may not have the best value for you, and there are a few red flags that indicate you should look somewhere else.

Availability and accessibility

Availability and accessibility are important in a good therapeutic relationship. You don’t want to start a relationship with a psychiatrist who is not available when you need them or has limited accessibility such that you don’t get the right care. There are alternatives if the professionals in your area don’t have the right type of availability, like telepsychiatry services.

Communication style and approach

You need to consider the communication style and approach used by the psychiatrist you are considering. Psychiatrists can use different therapeutic approaches, and you should find a therapeutic approach that matches your preferences.

If you aren’t sure, do some research about different therapeutic approaches, especially as it relates to the mental health issue with which you struggle, and use your consultation as an opportunity to investigate what approaches they use and the type of communication style they prefer.

Recognizing red flags

When you are trying to find the right psychiatrist, you need to be able to recognize red flags. A few red flags that might indicate a psychiatrist is not a good fit for you include the following:

  1. A lack of empathy, not acknowledging your symptoms or things with what you struggle
  2. Not respecting your boundaries
  3. Being unprofessional

Benefits and considerations of using telepsychiatry services

So, what about telepsychiatry services? Telepsychiatry services are certainly something to consider, especially in areas with limited access to mental health professionals.

If, for example, you can’t find someone through a professional referral who works in your area and specializes in the mental health issue for which you want treatment, you shouldn’t limit yourself to not getting care or getting the wrong kind of care. Instead, you can find a mental health professional with whom you feel comfortable, someone you trust who offers services virtually.

Telepsychiatry services offer the same benefits with the exception of meeting in person, but this can save you time and money when it comes to travel and gas, make it easier to schedule appointments with more flexible timelines and offer greater access to the right type of care.

Summing Up

Overall, individuals should feel empowered when seeking mental health support. The right tips and strategies for finding a good psychiatrist who meets your needs and preferences can ultimately facilitate a successful therapeutic partnership. Take your time in finding the right psychiatrist, and understand that the right partnership is a crucial step toward your mental health journey.

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