How to Find a Psychiatrist

And how to prepare for your first appointment

Mature adult therapist listens to mid adult male client

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Making the decision or realizing that you need a psychiatrist can seem scary at first. The process of finding one can seem even more daunting. However, with the right resources, the process can be seamless and stress-free.

Where to find one, how much they cost, how often you'll need to go in are all questions you'll probably be asking yourself. This article provides you with information on finding a psychiatrist to cater to your needs. 

Why You Might Need to Find a Psychiatrist 

Before finding a psychiatrist, it's great to think about why you might need one. This places a key role in helping you pick the best psychiatrist for your needs.

For instance, if you have a specific mental health condition like bipolar disorder, you might want to consider a psychiatrist who has had more experience treating such disorders. Here are a few reasons you might need to find a psychiatrist: 

  • You have a mental health condition: If you've been diagnosed with a mental health condition, therapy is often recommended as part of a treatment plan for most mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. 
  • You simply want to speak to someone: You don't need to have an official diagnosis before deciding to talk to a psychiatrist. If you feel like your mental well-being is at risk and need to speak to a psychiatrist, don't hesitate to reach out to one.
  • Your doctor has referred you: Your first stop when exhibiting symptoms of a physical or mental condition is typically a general physician or your local healthcare provider. After they have examined you, they might refer you to a psychiatrist. 
  • Drug or alcohol use: If you've been abusing drugs or alcohol to the extent that it interferes with your daily functioning, you might need to consult a psychiatrist. 

Where to Find a Psychiatrist 

There are a few places to go when you are looking for a psychiatrist. Here's a list of some of the most common places to consider. 

Through your Healthcare Provider 

If you are looking for a psychiatrist, the most reliable first step is to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.

Your doctor will give you a list of certified and dependable psychiatrists to choose from. After this is done, take some time to conduct your research into each of the names on your list.

Cross-reference each person with a list of things that might be important to you, like age, race, or gender.

Speak to Family and Friends 

While you might be reluctant to tell your family and loved ones that you are looking for a psychiatrist, they could be a great resource to help you find a fantastic one. They can point you in the direction of psychiatrists they have tried, or they've come across in their personal lives or at work.

They can also assist in helping you do the groundwork involved in looking for a psychiatrist. Your family and friends have your best interest at heart and will do their best to find you a great fit.

Do Some Research Online

The internet has many resources to help you find a great psychiatrist. However, you don't want to pick the first person you see.

It would be best if you remembered to do thorough research into each potential psychiatrist you consider. The directory at the American Psychiatric Association is a good place to start.

Consider Medical Journals 

Reading medical journals can seem like an unusual way to find a psychiatrist, but it's one to consider. You can look up research articles relevant to your particular condition and come up with a list of psychiatrists by looking at the authors of these articles.

You can reach out to them, and even though they might not be a good fit for your needs, they may be able to refer you to someone who is. 

Things to Consider When Looking for a Psychiatrist 

Picking a good psychiatrist is key to taking care of your mental well-being if you've been diagnosed with a mental condition. You also don't need to have been diagnosed with a mental disorder to see a psychiatrist.

Here are some things to consider when you are looking for one: 

  • Shop around: You can meet with and consult several psychiatrists before committing to one person. You don't have to sign up with the first person you were referred to. 
  • Experience/Expertise: Your psychiatrist's expertise plays a crucial role in deciding whether you'll sign up with them. If you have a specific condition, you'll want to consider a specialist who has had more time treating that condition. 
  • Make a list of what's important to you: Different things are important to different people. Before you start your search and meet with psychiatrists, make a list of the most important things you are looking for in a psychiatrist.
  • Check what your insurance covers: Speak to your insurance provider to find out to what extent your coverage will protect your psychiatrist sessions. You might need to pay some amount out of pocket in some situations.
  • Location: It's essential to factor in your psychiatrist's location before committing to one.
  • Read reviews: When looking up the psychiatrists you consider, you are very likely to come across patient reviews. It's a good idea to read through these reviews and carefully consider them before deciding. 
  • Do your research: If you've found a psychiatrist that's a good fit, make sure to carefully look up their credentials to ensure they have the proper certifications. 
  • Telehealth availability: You might not always feel like going for every session in person. You should find out if the psychiatrist you are considering offers online services

Preparing for Your First Appointment 

Making a first-time appointment with a psychiatrist doesn't mean you have to commit them. Consider it a trial run.

Before your first appointment, you should do a few things to prepare yourself:

  1. Come along with a detailed list of any medication you are on alongside your medical or family history.
  2. Make a list of symptoms you've been feeling and any other things you want to discuss with your psychiatrist so that you''ll remember to bring it up.
  3. Make sure you have your insurance information ready.
  4. Bring a notepad with you to write down any important pieces of information your psychiatrist tells you during your session.

Your First Session

Your first appointment will typically last around an hour. Your psychiatrist will ask you a series of questions to medically evaluate you. They might also order for a couple of tests to be done. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to ensure that you are comfortable with them.

A Word From Verywell 

Looking for a psychiatrist is nothing to feel embarrassed about. While the process might seem daunting and frustrating, patience is vital. Take time to find a psychiatrist that's a good fit for all of your needs. Before committing to one, please make sure all of their credentials check out and they have the proper certifications that qualify them to cater to your needs. 

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Rochester Medical Center. Top 5 reasons to seek help - mental health & wellness.

  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Finding the Best Psychiatrist for You. April 8, 2019

  3. NHS UK. Psychiatry. July 20, 2018.

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.