Finding the right psychiatrist is a personal experience that takes time and special attention. Knowing when the right time is to see a psychiatrist is a difficult thing to come to terms with, however it is a crucial first step to overcoming any trauma or struggles that you may have in your life. Since psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can prescribe medications to help control any symptoms that you may have in relation to certain disorders. Some treatment plans include both a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but some psychiatrists also counsel their patients.

Step One: Getting referrals

The first important step in finding the right psychiatrist is talking to your primary care physician or your healthcare provider and getting a referral. It is important to find a doctor who you can relate to and that you can build a relationship with. Talking to friends and family may be helpful to you during your research to finding the right person.

Once you can figure out a list of a few potential matches, calling their offices would be a good way to narrow down your list to find someone to meet with.

Step Two: Researching their credentials/specialties

A lot of the time, psychiatrists have certain specialties that they focus on in their practice. Some examples of specialties are sleep problems, anxiety, depression, certain mental health disorders, LGBT issues, children/adolescents, and trauma. It is important to think about what your needs are and what you want to cover with your psychiatrist. If you are looking for your child, it would be beneficial to find a child psychiatrist to help them with their needs.

Another thing that is important to look for is board certification. Board certification lets you know that the doctor has completed the necessary training to practice and provide care in psychiatry.

Step Three: Considering experience

The more experience a doctor has in their specialty, the more likely they will be able to make you comfortable, as they will be more comfortable performing any related tests or procedures. Many private practices have reviews online about their clinicians that can help guide you in the right direction towards whether or not you will like them. Additionally, it is important to consider any treatment procedures that would possibly be performed. If you need something specific like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), it’s probably a good idea to ask how many times that doctor performed this procedure, and their success rate with it.

As mentioned, looking at reviews might be helpful in finding the best fit for you, because they offer the chance to look at real experiences. Even though you can’t form your opinion solely based on reviews, it is something to consider when doing your research.

Step Four: Building a relationship

Once you finally select a psychiatrist, it is now time to start forming a relationship with your doctor. Depending on if they offer counseling services, they will most likely refer you to someone who does to complement their services. Counseling and therapy often take a very long time, so it is imperative to establish a relationship with your doctor. Your psychiatrist should be interested in you and your preferences. Forming this partnership is only possible if you are comfortable, and there is nothing wrong if the first session doesn’t go as planned! Finding the right doctor is a lot like dating; sometimes it takes a couple of tries to meet the right one. Take into consideration communication style, treatment plans, even things like gender and age all are factors to consider. It’s possible to be more comfortable speaking to a younger woman rather than an older man, or vice versa. No matter what your preferences are, they should all be taken into account when selecting a therapist from

Bonus: Consider your health insurance

Psychiatry services are not cheap. Figuring out what insurance specific practices take is also an important step to take in finding a psychiatrist, so that you won’t be responsible for all of the costs out of pocket. In order to pay the least money for the most services, it would be best to consider a psychiatrist that accepts your insurance. To find out, check with your insurance provider, either by phone or on their website.

Finding a provider that works for you that also takes your insurance is no easy task. Many people have to make difficult decisions on whether or not to work with the doctors that are under their insurance plans. If you are struggling to pay for your services, find out if that provider offers a sliding scale, or contact your state’s mental health services to see if they can assist you.