A psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor who specializes in treating mental illnesses. Unlike a therapist, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication in addition to therapy or other treatments for various mental illnesses. But finding the right psychiatrist who understands your needs and suggests the best solutions can seem a daunting task.
It is always a little intimidating to put your health in the hands of someone else, especially when it comes to your mental health. With these tips, you can make an informed choice and find the right psychiatrist for your specific needs.
Get Your Primary Care Provider Involved
If you aren’t sure where to begin your search, bring up your need for a psychiatrist to your primary care provider (PCP). Although they may mostly help you with your physical health issues, they will already be familiar with much of your situation. They can offer you a referral list of psychiatrists within your network that might suit your needs.
This is helpful for a few reasons. It cuts through the issue of having to form a list yourself, and having to check whether the psychiatrist is within your network. You also have the referral from a medical professional that you already know and trust, which can help to instill confidence in the options.
Search Through Online Directories
You can also conduct your own search by looking through online directories. Although many of the reputable online directories are nationwide, you can narrow your search by zip code, specialty, and credentials. You may still need to cross reference to ensure that the psychiatrist is covered by your insurance. Some directories include:
You can also search through local directories. Your insurance provider may even have a search option on their website that will allow you to find psychiatrists within your network.
Look For Specialists
Psychiatry is a wide field. There are a number of reasons to seek out a psychiatrist. You may need help coping after a trauma or dealing with social anxiety in the workplace. You may seek a psychiatrist for help with postpartum depression or anxiety or for anxiety in the midst of IVF treatments. It can help to narrow your search if you look for psychiatrists who specialize in what you need. In most cases, an online bio will tell you what different specializations they’ve worked with and what, if anything, their focus is.
Evaluate Their Experience
If you’re looking for an experienced, knowledgeable psychiatrist, take some time to evaluate their career history. How many years have they been a psychiatrist? Do they have any relevant certifications or recognitions? Where did they receive their degree? You can also get a sense of their expertise by looking through any publications they may have made within their field — whether publishing an article in a journal or publishing a book about an aspect of psychiatry.
The information you need should be readily available on their website or on their bio within a mental health provider network’s website. If not, searching for their name online may turn up examples of their experience.
Ask About Scheduling and Telehealth
Telehealth has taken off since 2020, but it continues to be prevalent today. Many patients prefer telehealth to making the commute for an in-person visit with their psychiatrist. It can also be convenient in the event that you’re sick or traveling. On the other hand, some patients prefer the face-to-face interaction of in-person visits.
Consider your preference when it comes to telehealth or in-person visits. When you know your preference, you can find a psychiatrist who offers appointments fitting your needs. You should also ask about scheduling. What hours does the psychiatrist have available and how do those times fit into your schedule? Even with a psychiatrist who seems to be a good fit, if your schedules don’t align, it likely won’t work out.
Take Your Comfort Level Into Account
It’s okay to have a preference between male and female psychiatrists. Some patients prefer a psychiatrist who shares their gender as it makes them feel safer and more understood. Just make sure that you are vocal about those preferences when searching for a psychiatrist. You may also prefer a psychiatrist who is a person of color or a member of the LGBTQ community if these are aspects that are important to your identity and life. Take time to consider your comfort level before you make a decision.
Read Patient Reviews
Want to know what to expect from an appointment with a new psychiatrist? Take a look at what their past clients have to say. If the psychiatrist has set up a Google or Yelp page, they may have reviews on there. Their provider network website may also have an area to leave reviews. These reviews may be anonymous to protect client-patient confidentiality, but should provide insight into the psychiatrist’s level of care.
Try Things Out With a Consultation Or First Appointment
Sometimes you won’t know if a psychiatrist is a good fit for you until you sit down and start to work with them. People have different styles of communication, and for something like mental health support, it’s important to make sure you and your psychiatrist communicate well. Schedule a consultation or an intake appointment with the psychiatrist if you can to get a sense of their communication style. If not, go ahead and schedule the first appointment. If they aren’t a good fit, you can always find a new psychiatrist.
At Rivia, our network of psychiatrists and psychologists take a holistic approach to mental wellness, including a full disciplinary team to help you manage both your medication, your individual strengths and challenges, and help you achieve your life worth living goals. Our psychiatry providers are certified, experienced, and compassionate, specializing in a number of different areas. Contact us today to learn more or to book your first appointment: (212) 203-1773.