Finding A Psychiatrist For You

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you’re looking for personalized support that combines medicine and psychology for your mental health concerns, psychiatrists have 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, many psychiatrists offer their services online, so you can enlist their 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, 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 a psychiatrist who 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 to address their mental health concerns.

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 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 medical and psychotherapeutic treatments, a psychiatrist may be the best option for you.

Finding A Psychiatrist

In many cases, you can begin your search for a psychiatrist by asking close friends, family, or your primary care doctor for psychiatrist 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. The following organizations provide directories of such professionals:

If you’re using online directories to find a psychiatrist, you might 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, you might 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 (You can check their credentials at the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.)
  • Teaching experience
  • Scientific publications
  • Years of experience
  • Their website and description of their medical approach
  • Other patients’ reviews

What To Expect At Your First Psychiatry Appointment 

Most psychiatrists begin with an initial consultation. This first appointment gives 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 consultation, you can also ask about any sliding scale fee plans and the predicted length of the treatment plan.

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 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 treatment, the 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.

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 psychiatrists. However, after you meet 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

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 online sessions to make psychiatry available 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 insight, 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 of 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 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 a psychiatrist online, some directories (such as the APA Finder tool) allow you to filter the results for psychiatrists who 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 effective stepping stone to other treatments. 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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Want To Explore Options For Mental Health Care?

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 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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