Finding a psychiatrist should not be so hard. With all of the feelings that people experience that can stand in the way of getting help (shame, guilt, hopelessness, etc.), Once people finally decide to get help it should be a lot easier to find a good psychiatrist than it is.
It all begins with finding good doctors. In many parts of the country this can be hard. There may not be many choices.
Finding Psychiatrists – Getting a List
Start with a list of “candidates” –
You can search google (search psychiatrist and the name of the closest big town or city), but many people feel that the Psychology Today find a therapist directory is easier to use.
You can search by types of problems treated (of course this is a self report, but still it will give you an idea) as well as type of insurance (this information may not always be accurate).
Another useful resource is the list of psychiatrists that your insurance company has. You should be able to search by location and, perhaps, specialty.
Finding a Psychiatrist – Gathering Information
If you have a local magazine (usually named after the closest big city – for instance Los Angeles Magazine) it may publish a review of doctors. Those are of variable quality, but often have a bit more information than just looking through “Yelp” reviews. Also, check to see if the medical board for your state allows you to search online to make sure that the doctor you are thinking of going to doesn’t have any license problems and to make sure that your doctor is board certified (this isn’t necessary, but it does provide one way of making sure that your doctor knows his subject). Look to see if your doctor has a website. Go to it and get a feel for the practice. Look in one of the online doctor sites (vitals.com, healthgrades.com, etcetera), not so much for the reviews, of which there are usually too few to have much confidence in them, but to again be sure that your doctor went to a good school, actually graduated, etcetera. If you are lucky enough to be in an area where Consumer Checkbook rates doctors, definitely go to their website (it costs money but it is worth it – www.checkbook.org).
Finding a Psychiatrist – Interviews
Now you are set for your interview of one or a couple of potential doctors. We suggest that you don’t tell your candidates that you are interviewing them… if only because you want to get a sense of their typical practice, not how they function when under a spotlight. But do have a short list of questions in mind. Are there any things about past experiences that are important (doctors who don’t return phone calls, doctors who don’t seem to care, etcetera)? Look for those warning signs, and ask your candidate how he or she prefers to handle phone calls. Ask them how they got interested in working with folks with moods… and then wonder how they manage to keep up with all the changes in their field…
At the end of the interview we suggest making a future appointment if you feel it was a good fit (check to see what their cancellation policy is). But if you feel it isn’t going to work out just say that you are looking for something a bit different.