Friday, July 7, 2017

Finding Your Psychiatrist Match: The Strategy to Making an Appointment

This post is the first in the series on finding the right psychiatrist that suits your needs and the strategies to making an appointment. 

Finding the right psychiatrist is a bit of a different process from finding your psychotherapy match. Since psychiatrists are MDs, their time is limited, and there are far fewer of them than psychotherapists. Your approach needs to be different.

How do you pick a psychiatrist?

The most common route to an appointment with a psychiatrist is through a referral by your psychotherapist.


  • Many psychotherapists have the names and contact information for one or two psychiatrists available for quick reference.
  • If your psychotherapist doesn’t have a working relationship with a psychiatrist and she wants an evaluation, she has colleagues that can provide the MD reference.
  • It’s important to know that if your psychotherapist is recommending a psychiatrist, they should provide you with a referral to someone they trust.

The second route to an appointment with a psychiatrist:


  • Best to get a referral to a psychiatrist from another physician or healthcare professional. MDs work closely with other MDs.
  • When getting the referral ask questions about the psychiatrist’s success rate, how collaborative he is with your physician, and how long your MD has worked with the psychiatrist.

Once you have a referral either from your psychotherapist or your healthcare provider, check your insurance and verify the psychiatrist is covered under your policy.

  • If he is, you are ready to make an appointment
  • If you plan to be self-pay, you can call without this step.
What you need to know about making your appointment
  • Like most physicians, psychiatrists have office managers/receptionists. You will most likely be making your appointment through this person.
  • It’s important that the receptionist listens, is polite and helpful. If you become this Dr's patient, the receptionist is the gate keeper to your access with him. You need a good relationship with her. Start out on a good footing.
  • Tell her that you are a new patient being referred by [name your referrer].
  • If she says the Dr. is no longer accepting new patients, you need another referral.
  • If he is accepting new patients, ask for the first available appointment.
  • She will ask you many questions to get your contact and insurance information into their computer system.
  • She will ask you about your insurance and confirm for you that the psychiatrist accepts your provider.
  • At the end of the call you should have a date, time, and office location for your appointment.
  • The wait time for your appointment varies depending on your psychiatrist’s available office hours and schedule demands.
  • The length of your first psychiatry appointment varies by what the MDs preference is. 45 minutes for a first appointment is common.

In the next post, we’ll examine what you can expect at your first appointment with your psychiatrist and some clues that the relationship has promise.

To learn more about my treatment story, click here.

To learn more about my book Finding My Voice- A 20 Year Psychiatrist - Patient Odyssey, click here.  





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