Finding A Psychiatrist For You

Updated October 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you’re looking for personalized support that combines medicine and psychology for your mental health concerns or to treat mental health conditions, an in-person or online psychiatrist has the knowledge and expertise to help. Psychiatrists are trained physicians who specialize in the treatment of mental, behavioral, and personality disorders. These medical professionals are highly trained and equipped to treat a diverse array of mental health concerns. If you’re searching for psychiatric support, you have options. In addition to in-person sessions, there are many psychiatry services that can match a patient with an online psychiatrist, so you can enlist their psychiatric help without compromising your schedule.

Below, we’ll explore your options for psychiatric care, reasons why you might choose psychiatry, and how online therapy can enhance your psychiatric treatment plan.

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Psychiatrist Vs. Psychologist: What’s The Difference?

Both psychiatrists and psychologists work in mental health, but prior to entering the field, they undergo different types of training. Unlike psychologists, who are primarily trained to provide psychotherapy and talk therapy, both in-person and online psychiatrists have graduated from medical school and have a deep understanding of human biology and psychological concepts of human behavior, development, and personality.

For many people, it’s important to find an in-person or online psychiatrist who honors the connection between our psychological and physical health. Why is this mind-body connection so important for psychiatric matters? There are a few reasons, but a primary reason is that an in-person or online psychiatrist is a medical doctor and therefore can prescribe medication to their patients to address their psychiatric concerns.

Both in-person and online psychiatrists are uniquely trained to work within the framework of a mind-body connection. Due to their understanding of human biology, they can prescribe medications and provide you with a medication management plan. Qualifications in psychiatry usually mean that psychiatrists can prescribe controlled substances. An in-person or online psychiatrist can also order medical procedures, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can treat psychiatric concerns like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because psychiatrists are also trained in psychology, they understand how psychotherapy and psychological tests can complement these medical treatments.

If you believe that your mental health concerns warrant a combined approach of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatments, an in-person or online psychiatrist may be the best option for you.

Finding A Psychiatrist: Insurance Coverage, Cost, And More

In many cases, you can begin your search for an in-person or online psychiatrist by asking close friends, family, or your primary care doctor for psychiatrist recommendations. Your primary care physician may write you a referral so that you can schedule an appointment for psychiatry services more quickly. If you feel more comfortable starting your search discreetly, there are several online directories that allow prospective patients to connect with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The following organizations provide directories of online psychiatrists so that you can find the best online psychiatry services for you:

If you’re using internet directories to find an online board-certified psychiatrist, you might pay attention to their diverse range of subspecialties, which are specialty certifications within the mental health field. In-person or online psychiatrists may specialize in child psychiatry, couples and family psychiatric concerns, or specific mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or eating disorders. It can be helpful to choose an online mental health professional based on your specific mental health challenges and goals.

As you search, you might begin to compile a list of potential in-person or online psychiatrists that you would like to start collaborating with. Depending on your preferred contact mode, you can email or call their office to schedule a psychiatric consultation. Before attending your first appointment, the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends screening the online psychiatrist for the following considerations:

  • Compatibility with your insurance
  • The education of your online psychiatrist, which includes board-certified subspecialties and areas of expertise (You can check their credentials at the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.)
  • Teaching experience of the online psychiatrist
  • Scientific publications that the online psychiatrist has written
  • How many years of experience the online psychiatrist has
  • The website and description of the online psychiatrist and their medical approach
  • Other patients’ reviews of the online psychiatrist

What To Expect At Your First Psychiatry Appointment 

Most in-person or online psychiatrists begin with an initial consultation before a treatment plan is made. This first appointment gives psychiatric patients an opportunity to discuss their concerns and mental health history with an experienced provider while assessing the doctor’s personality and treatment approach. You might prepare a list of questions as well as a list of any current medications or testing records. During your psychiatric consultation, you can also ask about any sliding scale fee plans and the predicted length of the treatment plan.

Are There Any Cons To Seeing A Psychiatrist? 

If you’re curious about psychiatric medication, note that psychiatrists usually only recommend prescriptions after a psychological evaluation. This includes a thorough review of your medical history, health records, and psychiatric goals. Depending on your symptoms, the psychiatrist may also order psychological and medical tests, such as brain imaging or blood tests, to rule out any underlying causes of your concerns.

With this information and your consent to pursue psychiatric treatment, the in-person or online psychiatrist will likely develop a personalized treatment plan. Although the psychiatrist may decide to add or alter your medications as part of your treatment, mental health conditions do not always require medication. In these cases, a psychiatrist may recommend psychotherapy or another non-medicinal treatment to improve and manage a patient’s symptoms. Online therapy can be a convenient way to receive mental health care.

At BetterHelp, board-certified therapists can provide therapeutic treatment for ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions. At this time, BetterHelp does not include online psychiatrists. However, after you meet with an in-person or online psychiatrist, they may suggest that you connect with a therapist whose specialty or approach aligns with your needs, and BetterHelp can assist with this part of your care.


Exploring Online Options For Psychiatry And Psychology

When it comes to mental health, it can be difficult to find the time—let alone the words—to ask for help. However, many psychiatrists offer virtual mental health care through online sessions to make psychiatry available to a wider variety of patients. Whether you’re searching for an online psychiatrist or psychologist, online psychiatric care can provide the same professional insight and treatment through virtual visits as you’d receive in person. In some cases, you may meet with your online psychiatrist in person during your first consultation and then continue treatment via video chat or another digital platform. Whatever your preference, it’s possible to find an online psychiatrist and receive a thorough psychiatric assessment without leaving home.

Both therapeutic and psychiatric services are expanding rapidly to meet the needs of mental health patients. Answering the question of "How do I find an online psychiatrist?" is no longer as difficult as it once was. While many studies focus on the benefits of online therapy, many researchers point toward the potential of digital solutions in psychiatric treatment, such as virtual reality to facilitate exposure therapy for phobias, chatbots to deliver CBT, and even voice and facial recognition software to support psychiatric diagnoses.

Online psychiatrists continue to study how digital platforms can enhance their psychiatric treatments, but in the meantime, they may offer audio and video chat and even messaging options for their patients so that they can invest in their mental health without rearranging their daily routines. If you want to work with an online psychiatrist, some directories (such as the APA Finder tool) allow you to filter the results for online psychiatrists who provide telehealth services. As you explore the world of online psychiatry, it can be vital to form a healthy therapeutic relationship with your psychiatrist, as medication management is usually a collaborative process.

If you’re ready to begin your mental health journey but unsure if psychiatry is right for you, online therapy can be an effective stepping stone to other treatments. Online therapy provides benefits such as flexible scheduling and offers a wider range of mental health professionals. Read on for reviews from BetterHelp clients who have worked with our board-certified online therapists toward their mental health goals.

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Therapist Reviews From BetterHelp Clients

"I have not been working with Andrea for long but I have found her to be compassionate and adaptable. She helped me realize that if a medical doctor or therapist isn't able to empathize and they are approaching my problems cynically and with indiscriminate doubt, they cannot help me. Andrea is the first person in a long time that inspired me to hope they can help and trust that they will at the very least try."

"I love working with Nancy! She's been very empowering, compassionate, and understanding. Whenever I text or call, I know she'll be there for me and that she'll provide me with an insight that will help me find my way. I've been really appreciative of these counseling services, and I am so very glad I decided to do counseling. It's an investment in one's health. I've been on psychotic meds for a whole decade and while medications numb the pain, they do not resolve it. Counseling does! I am definitely continuing to work with Nancy."


No matter what mental health concerns you’re experiencing, you don’t have to try to navigate them alone. There are mental health professionals who can help, including online psychiatrists, behavioral health counselors, and therapists. With BetterHelp, you can start your search by getting matched with a licensed therapist with experience treating your specific concerns. Take the first step to a healthier you and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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