By Johanna Wilson, MD
Finding a clinician you can trust is often difficult for those who are struggling emotionally. These tips may make it easier to decide.
Welcome to Hope419 where we promote hope and balance for you to achieve your best life. Everyone has the power to become healthier, body and mind. The people and tools you choose to help you get healthier are out there, you just have to know which ones to choose.
“How do I tell a complete stranger the most painful and intimate experiences of my life? “
We understand that opening up isn’t easy. It is not uncommon during a session to hear, “I have never told anyone this before.” So how do you decide? Who is the right person to listen and help?
Tips For Choosing the right person.
Get referrals. In a small community, word travels fast on how people feel about this or that. This goes for finding the right clinician as well. Ask about what they liked and didn’t like. What one person prefers, you may not. If you align your own preferences and personality with someone who provides a glowing endorsement, it might be a safe bet that you too will have a positive experience with that clinician.
Read reviews. If you don’t know anyone, or simply don’t feel comfortable asking, look to the online reviews. You can often find bit more online about ease of making appointments, friendliness of front desk staff, and feelings about office policies. You can also get a sense for how well patients trust the doctor or how much time she spends with her patients.
Evaluate communication style. An initial appointment can be as much of an interview for you as it is for the psychiatrist. Ask questions, get a feel for how the psychiatrist responds to your questions. Find a psychiatrist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
Consider gender. When it comes to getting into the intimate and painful experiences of the past or present, you want to make sure you are comfortable with the person sitting across from you. For some, this comfort may be gender based.
Consider experience. Just like other areas of medicine, a psychiatrist may have special training or experience with certain diseases or treatments. It is important to communicate to the psychiatrist your interest in a specific treatment modality so that they can tell you their experience level with what you are looking for. If they are not experienced, they may know a psychiatrist who is, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Know their credentials. Board certification is one of the most important factors when choosing a psychiatrist. A board certification means that they have gone the extra step to take a test set forth by their specialty to create a high standard medical knowledge in that specialty. For psychiatrists, the board is the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. This information can usually be found by contacting your insurance provider.
Know your insurance coverage. Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. Appointments with psychiatrists are often more frequent than what one may be used to in the primary care world. Monthly appointments until illness is improved is a likely frequency. Thus, out of pocket costs are in important consideration. Finding a psychiatrist who is sensitive to your financial needs is also important.
Know their telehealth capabilities. Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic we have seen just how important it is for psychiatrists to have telehealth capabilities to ensure no disruption in treatment. Beyond need, is the importance of preference and convenience. Now more than ever, people are realizing the convenience of being able to have an online session and medication management with their psychiatrist from the convenience of home or work.
In the end, right person is the person you feel comfortable with. There is abundant research in the the therapy world on the impact of psychotherapeutic rapport in improving patient outcomes. So what does that mean without the jargon? It means, you are likely to get healthier with someone who you trust, someone who listens, and who you actually enjoy having conversation with. Going to a psychiatrist doesn’t have to be fun (it could be), but it certainly shouldn’t be something you dread!
Johanna Wilson, MD, is a Mansfield Ohio-based psychiatrist and the founder of Hope419, a psychiatric and counseling practice. She is also a Member of 33 Forever’s Professional Advisory Committee. This blog article is reprinted from the Hope419 website with the author’s permission.