Have you been struggling to find a psychiatrist in your area? You may have found a variety of licensed mental health professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, or therapists. However, psychiatry can be different. Understanding how to find a psychiatrist may benefit you in your therapeutic journey.
What Is A Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists graduated from medical school and completed training to specialize in psychiatry. At times, psychiatry may be confused with psychology, which also focuses on mental health. A psychologist also has an advanced graduate degree and specialized training but is not a medical doctor.
Psychiatrists focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral health conditions. Psychiatrists can perform lab and diagnostic tests and analyze genetic and physical attributes that may affect mental health. Psychiatrists may also treat patients with psychotherapy (sometimes called talk therapy), medication, or a combination of treatments to meet an individual’s needs.
Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can write prescriptions for medication. Other licensed mental health professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, or therapists, cannot prescribe medication.
However, psychologists may collaborate or consult with their client’s psychiatrist or primary care physician about medication options for an individual’s treatment. Often, a psychiatrist’s treatment involves working with a physician and another licensed mental health professional.
What To Look For In A Psychiatrist
You may have questions about what to look for in a psychiatrist. The following are steps you can take when looking for a psychiatrist.
Ask For A Referral
Ask for a referral from your primary care physician, a community health center, or an insurance company. You might also ask trusted friends familiar with mental health care in your community.
Research the doctor’s credentials. Aside from looking for a board-certified physician, you can research a psychiatrist’s education and research history.
Look for a psychiatrist who specializes in your concern or condition. Many mental health professionals are qualified to treat various mental health disorders.
However, finding one with a specialized focus could be a beneficial step, depending on your case. For instance, certain psychiatrists may specialize in treating eating disorders, substance abuse concerns, or children’s conditions.
Ask what treatments the psychiatrist provides. Some psychiatrists might focus primarily on medication management. Others might focus on supplemental forms of therapy. Some might do both.
Meet with the psychiatrist to see if you think they’ll be a good fit for your needs. Considerations may include whether you feel you can trust them, how comfortable you’ll be talking openly to them, and whether you feel they are listening to your concerns.
If you have insurance, you might want to look for psychiatrists on your insurance plan. Ask local psychiatrists about their pricing if you don’t have psychiatry coverage.
Consider logistical issues. How soon can you get an appointment? How accessible is the psychiatrist? Is the location convenient? Are appointments available during times when you can go?
How Much Does A Psychiatrist Cost?
There is no single answer to how much a psychiatrist costs. For instance, the initial appointment may be charged higher than subsequent appointments. Geographic location can also make a difference in cost.
Having an insurance plan may make a difference in your out-of-pocket price. One psychiatrist’s services may cost more than others. Asking about rates and payment options is a possible way to determine the cost of treatment.
There are options for affordable mental health services. Some psychiatrists may work on a sliding scale, which means they could charge each patient based on their income. Community health centers and medical schools can also be good resources for finding affordable psychiatric care.
What If I Can’t Find A Psychiatrist In My Area?
If you can’t find a psychiatrist in your area, speaking to your primary care physician or reaching out to a community health center can help. They may be knowledgeable about psychiatrists who are in the area or who you can consult with virtually. They may also have other suggestions for treatment. Some examples include seeing a licensed therapist and consulting with a nearby medical doctor.
Continue Seeking The Help That You Need
Try not to give up if your concerns aren’t improving after working with a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional. You may not see progress immediately, but try to give the process time.
If you feel that your mental health care provider is not suitable for you, it might be time to look for someone else. However, if you are on medication for your mental health treatment, ensure you do not stop taking it without speaking to the doctor who prescribed it or your primary care physician.
If you or a loved one has mental health concerns, your primary care physician or community health center may offer resources for finding help. There is also a free, confidential Helpline that can help you find healthcare providers.
Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) any time, day or night. Speakers of both English and Spanish staff on the Helpline. You can also try a treatment service locator option online to help you find a mental health care provider. You can enter your address, city, or zip code to search for treatment services near you.
Connecting With A Licensed Mental Health Professional
If you live in a big city, you may find many psychiatrists from which to choose. However, online counseling may be an option if you live somewhere where finding a psychiatrist is difficult or impossible.
Connecting online with a licensed mental health professional can also be a beneficial way to find help. Online options for therapy are often convenient, accessible, and affordable. Additionally, online therapy has been proven to be just as effective as in-person therapy for treating depression, anxiety, and trauma.
If you want to reach out to a counselor online, consider a platform such as BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples. Both offer a growing database of counselors specializing in a variety of concerns.
If you’re searching for a psychiatrist, various options may be available. Regardless of what type of modality you choose, you may be able to find someone with the knowledge, experience, and empathy to help you move forward and improve your mental health by using the resources listed above.
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