Monday, July 24, 2017

Preparing for Your First Psychiatrist Appointment

In the previous blog posts, I walked you through the strategy of finding your psychiatrist. Now what happens? First, check-in with yourself. Are you anxious or afraid of this upcoming appointment? Preparation is power. Take that power; don't give it away for ultimately, your psychiatrist wants to help you heal. 

The Basics

  • Make sure you have good directions to his office. Getting lost stinks on your first day.
  • Call his office in advance and ask the office manager about parking availability or bus line access
  • Remember your insurance card and copay. Ask the office manager what copay method is accepted. Surprises on your first appointment are anxiety-producing
  • Make an outline of the essential pieces of information you want the MD to know. Write them down. If you get nervous, sometimes remembering what you want to say can be a challenge.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early. Not just because of paperwork but also because it gives you time to collect your thoughts and get familiar with his waiting room. The first thing I noticed about Dr. Rosen’s waiting room was his artwork. Finding something to focus on in a new environment that’s calming is a big plus. Review your notes for the appointment. Ground yourself with the reasons you are there. This is your big WHY.
  • Most psychiatrist appointments run pretty much on schedule, barring emergencies. If you show up too late you will have to reschedule. Not what you want on your first appointment.
  • Remember, he’s in this branch of medicine to help people struggling with mental illnesses. He’s not going to judge you. 
What You Can Expect at Your First Appointment

  • Your psychiatrist will greet you and usher you into his office.
  • He’ll introduce himself and ask how he can help you
  • Get out that piece of paper that has your main concerns on them. Share your list with him.
  • He’ll ask you lots of questions about your life experiences, background, how you spend your time, what you enjoy doing.  He’s trying to get to know you as a person. Answer as honestly as you can. Check-in with yourself and see if you feel he’s engaged in your answers
  • He’ll ask you about medications and medical issues you may have so he has a complete picture of you, physically, emotionally, and psychosocially.
  • He’ll then discuss your symptoms and how he feels he can help
  • He'll then give you his clinical insights. Listen closely to his thoughts. Active listening paves the way to healing Ask him questions if you don’t understand what he is explaining.
  • Sometimes our psychiatrists give us feedback we aren’t happy with. Don’t disregard his clinical judgement because it makes you uncomfortable. Tell him his insights are uncomfortable for you. He’ll address your concerns without judgement.

·         Ending the appointment

  •       Ask where he has hospital admitting privileges
  •       Ask how to contact him if you have an emergency
  •       He’ll tell you when he wants to see you next
  •       He may give you a prescription
  •       He may give you orders for medical tests
  •       He may want another appointment to get more information from you before he decides on a treatment.

·         Deciding whether to return is a hard choice. Things to keep in mind:

  •      Building a trusting relationship takes time
  •      Unless the MD was a complete disaster, give the relationship time
  •      Follow his instructions and make the next appointment with his office manager.
  •      Spend some quiet time going over everything the physician said and what you think about his clinical advice. Be open minded.

In the next post, I’ll discuss expectations. The single biggest killer of a psychiatrist-patient relationship or psychotherapist-client relationship is having unrealistic expectations.

Over to You!

Learn more about my groundbreaking book on how I ultimately found healing and joy from cementing a 20 year collaboration with my psychiatrist Dr. Y. Read more about this book and how it can help you here. 

Follow me over on my Facebook Fan page where I often have light hearted conversations about what people often think of as dark topics.  Think of them as your daily dose of inspiration. We don't want to drag you guys down!

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