How to Find & Choose a Good Psychiatrist

Published on: 15 Sep 2022
Clinically Reviewed by Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW
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Psychiatrists are mental health professionals who have earned a medical degree in psychiatry. They focus on diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental health conditions. Because they’re an actual, licensed medical doctor (MD), they can prescribe medication, something that therapists, psychologists, and counselors can’t do. Psychiatrists often work alongside a mental health team to provide patients with depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues, and other mental health conditions with the full treatment plan they need. 

The psychiatrist you choose will play an essential role in your mental health treatment, so it’s important to find someone who matches your needs well. Read on to learn how to find a good psychiatrist so you can choose a provider who’s right for you and your specific mental health goals.

Why Is Finding a Psychiatrist So Hard?

Finding the right psychiatrist can be challenging for several reasons. Not only can it be difficult to find a care provider you feel comfortable with, but reports indicate a national shortage of psychiatrists. Couple this with the fact that we are also a nation with unprecedented mental health needs, and your search may be even more difficult. If you’re looking for a professional with a particular specialty who has experience treating a specific mental health condition, your search can become even more complex.

It can take time for you to find the right psychiatrist, but the process is easier once you learn more about how to choose a psychiatrist using the tips we’re providing here. Once you know what to look for, you can start your search and find someone who will provide you with excellent care.

“Finding the right psychiatrist can take some time, depending on if you’re looking for certain specialties, availability, cost, and more. Either before or during your first session with your psychiatrist, feel free to ask questions to see if this might be the right ‘fit’ for you.”

Talkspace therapist Muhammad Munir, MD, DFAPA

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Where to Find a Psychiatrist 

Are you ready to address your mental health by seeing a psychiatrist? Even if you don’t know how to find a psychiatrist, plenty of resources can point you in the right direction. 

Talk to your doctor

Let your primary healthcare provider know you’re interested in seeing a psychiatrist. They should be able to refer you to a qualified care provider or give you a list of providers to choose from. From there, you can research your options and narrow down your list. 

Talk to friends and family

It isn’t always easy to be open with others about your mental health, but some of your friends or family members may have been in the same position you’re in.  

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, over 46% of adults sought treatment for mental illness in 2020. You might likely discover someone you know, and trust their psychiatrist referral

Research local psychiatrists online

You can find online directories to help you find board-certified psychiatrists in your area. You can also use the Internet to find reviews and read up on psychiatrists near you. Even if your options are limited locally, you may be able to find a psychiatrist online who’s able to work with long-distance patients. 

6 Tips for Searching for a Psychiatrist

Particularly if you’re seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, you may not be sure how to look for your new doctor. These six simple tips will guide you through your search so that you’re able to pick the best professional for your needs. 

1. Think about your priorities

Not everyone looking for a psychiatrist is searching for the same things. Consider the following as you begin your search:

  • Do you want to see someone specializing in treating a specific mental health condition? 
  • Would you be more comfortable opening up to a potential psychiatrist of the same gender or identity?
  • Is proximity a concern?
  • Are you looking for a certain type of psychiatrist or treatment 

If you’re getting hung up on how to find a psychiatrist, you might try just thinking about what kind of care provider would be best for you. Trust is essential in mental health care, and you’ll have a much more powerful (and effective) experience if you focus on finding someone you feel comfortable with. 

2. Look at your insurance coverage

If you’re planning on using your insurance to cover the psychiatrist cost, you should talk with your provider about your health insurance coverage. They can help you find a psychiatrist in the network, substantially reducing your appointment cost. You should also ask questions about your coverage to find out what, if anything, you might be paying out of pocket. 

3. Consider credentials and experience

Part of figuring out how to find a good psychiatrist is looking for someone qualified to offer you the right type of care and support. You can narrow down your choices by: 

  • Finding out how long they’ve been practicing
  • Learning more about the treatment options they offer
  • Asking what they specialize in
  • Determining if they’ve previously treated others with your condition or concern
  • Looking at their background
  • Seeing where they attended medical school 
  • Make sure they don’t have a history of disciplinary claims or any malpractice suits

Finding a dependable, trustworthy care provider who can help you take charge of your mental health is essential to your healing and progress.

4. Ask the right questions

Once you’ve found a few suitable options, reach out to each care provider directly so you can ask questions and get the information you need. 

Important things to note or ask might include:

  • Find out if they’re currently accepting new patients
  • Check to see if there’s a waiting list for appointments 
  • Learn how long the wait would be
  • See what their payment policy is
  • Make sure their hours work with your schedule 

Asking questions and gathering information can help you make an informed decision about your future care. 

“Having a trustful therapeutic relationship is key to the success of a working relationship between you and your psychiatrist. It’s important to screen for qualifications as well as experience. The ability to relate and feel comfortable sharing your personal details is needed during the course of treatment.”

Talkspace therapist Muhammad Munir, MD, DFAPA

5. Explore telemedicine options 

Telemedicine has greatly improved and enhanced access to mental health care in recent years, making it possible for people to obtain treatment even when they have limited options in their area. 

Even if you plan on seeing a local psychiatrist, online services can make treatment more convenient, accessible, and affordable. Check if psychiatrists in your area offer telehealth services, and look at online psychiatry providers. 

6. Make sure you’re comfortable with your choice

When you’re looking for a mental health care provider, you can’t just think about how to find a psychiatrist. You need to make sure that whomever you decide to see will be able to give you the help you need once you’re actually working together. 

Look closely at your options to find the best psychiatrist for your mental health. Whether you decide on online psychiatry services or in-person private practice visits, the most important thing is to make sure you feel comfortable and confident about the choice that you ultimately wind up making. If the psychiatrist isn’t a good fit for you after a few sessions, you can always switch to another.

Find a Psychiatrist with Talkspace

You don’t have to worry if you don’t know how to find a good psychiatrist. Talkspace makes it easy for you. We can match you with a qualified online care provider who specializes and is experienced in whatever your mental health needs are. 

With the help of Talkspace online psychiatry, you’ll be able to receive personalized treatment from a licensed mental health professional and take an important step towards improving your mental health. Get started today. 

Sources:

1. 2017 REVIEW OF PHYSICIAN AND ADVANCED PRACTITIONER RECRUITING INCENTIVES. Merritthawkins.com. https://www.merritthawkins.com/uploadedFiles/MerrittHawkins/Pdf/2017_Physician_Incentive_Review_Merritt_Hawkins.pdf. Published 2017. Accessed August 24, 2022.

2. Mental Health By the Numbers | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nami.org. https://www.nami.org/mhstats. Published 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022.

3. Gajarawala S, Pelkowski J. Telehealth Benefits and Barriers. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2021;17(2):218-221. doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2020.09.013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7577680/. Accessed August 24, 2022.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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