How To Find The Right Psychiatrist For You

Updated December 25, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you’re looking for more intensive, personalized support for your mental health concerns, a psychiatrist has the knowledge and training 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 range of mental health concerns. If you’re searching for psychiatric support, you have options: in addition to in-person sessions, many psychiatrists offer their services online, so you can enlist their help without compromising your schedule.

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

Wondering If Psychiatry Is Right For You?

Psychiatrist Vs. Psychologist: What’s The Difference?

Psychiatrists and psychologists are both trained in the field of mental health – but prior to entering the field, they receive different types of training. 

Unlike psychologists, who are primarily trained to provide psychotherapy, psychiatrists attend 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 a psychiatrist that honors the connection between our psychological and physical health. Why is this mind/body connection so important? There are a few reasons, but a primary reason is that psychiatrists are medical doctors, and therefore can prescribe medication to their patients. 

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 order medical procedures such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even help people stop smoking. Because psychiatrists are also trained in psychology, they understand how psychotherapy and psychological tests complement these medical treatments. 

In short: if you believe that your mental health concerns warrant a combined approach of medical and psychotherapeutic treatments, a psychiatrist may be the best option for you.

Finding A Psychiatrist

In many cases, you can begin your search the old-fashioned way: by asking close friends, families , or your primary care doctor for psychiatrist recommendations. 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, including the following:

If you’re using online directories to find a psychiatrist, pay attention to their subspecialties, which are specialty board certifications within the mental health field. Psychiatrists may specialize in child psychiatry, couple and family concerns, or specific mental health conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or eating disorders. 

As you search, begin to compile a list of potential psychiatrists. Depending on your preferred contact mode, you can email or call their office to schedule a consultation. Before attending your first appointment, the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends “screening” the psychiatrist for the following considerations:

  • Compatibility with your insurance

  • Their education, which includes board-certified subspecialties and areas of expertise

  • Teaching experience (do they teach psychiatry?)

  • Scientific publications

  • Years of experience

  • Their website and description of their medical approach

  • Other patients’ reviews

With these factors in mind and a list of psychiatrists in hand, you’re ready for your first appointment. 

What To Expect At Your First Psychiatry Appointment 

If this is your first time working with a psychiatrist, take a deep breath: the process of finding the right one for you can be a winding one, but it’s usually well worth the investment of your time and energy. 

Most psychiatrists begin with an initial consultation. This first appointment gives patients an opportunity to discuss their concerns and mental history with an experienced provider, while assessing the doctor’s personality and treatment approach. Come prepared with a list of questions as well as any current medications or testing records. During your consultation, you can also ask about costs, insurance, and the predicted length of treatment plan.

If you’re curious about psychiatric medication, note that psychiatrists can only recommend prescriptions after a psychological evaluation. This includes a thorough review of your medical history, health records, and 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. 

With this information and your consent to pursue treatment, the psychiatrist will develop a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Although a 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.

At BetterHelp, board-certified psychologists and licensed counselors can provide therapeutic treatment for ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. At this time, BetterHelp does not include psychiatrists. However, after meeting with a psychiatrist, they may suggest that you connect with a therapist whose specialty or approach aligns with your needs.

Exploring Online Options For Psychiatry And Psychology

While many of us want to improve our mental health, it can be difficult to find the time – let alone, the words – to ask for help.  A new baby, an overwhelming job, or living in a remote area can prevent us from accessing quality mental healthcare. 

In the digital age, however, many psychiatrists offer online sessions to make psychiatry accessible to a wider variety of patients. Whether you’re searching for a psychiatrist or psychologist, an online mental health professional can provide the same compassion, professional insights, and treatment you’d receive in an in-person therapy session. In some cases, you may meet with your psychiatrist in-person during your first consultation, and then decide to continue treatment via video chat or another digital platform. Whatever your preference, it’s possible to find an online psychologist or psychiatrist and receive a thorough clinical mental health assessment without leaving home. 

Both therapy and psychiatry services are expanding rapidly to meet the needs of mental health patients. While many studies focus on the benefits on online therapy, many researchers point toward the potential of digital solutions in psychiatry, 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. 

Psychiatrists continue to study how digital platforms can enhance their treatments; but in the meantime, many offer video chat, phone calls, and even messaging options for their patients, so that people can invest in their mental health without rearranging their daily routines. If you want to work with a psychiatrist online, some directories (such as the APA Finder tool) let you filter for psychiatrists that provide telehealth services.

If you’re ready to begin your mental health journey but unsure if psychiatry is right for you, online therapy can be an excellent steppingstone to other treatments. Read on for reviews from real BetterHelp patients, who have worked with our board-certified online counselors toward a range of mental health goals. 

Wondering If Psychiatry Is Right For You?

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."

Takeaway 

Finding the right psychiatrist and therapist takes time, but when you finally assemble a team of mental health professionals, you can look forward to brighter days ahead. Refer to our guide throughout your search, and feel free to reach out to a licensed online therapist for guidance, personalized support, and constant encouragement – just a few clicks away. 

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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