Dr. Melissa Welby is a Harvard trained psychiatrist in private practice in Connecticut.  She writes a blog, https://www.drmelissawelby.com/blog/, where she shares her reflections on various topics related to psychiatry and tips to improve overall well-being.

I asked Dr. Welby to share her thoughts on choosing a psychiatrist and she provided several questions you can ask yourself and a potential doctor. Following are the questions you should ask of yourself and a potential psychiatrist.

The fit between you and your psychiatrist is extremely important. You could see a top-rated psychiatrist but if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal issues with them then they will not be able to be as helpful.

Do you agree on the treatment goals? Will you be working towards the same endpoint?

It’s important to feel like you are a member of the team working together to improve your health. Do you feel included in deciding your treatment?

Are different options explained to you? Sometimes there are multiple options with different pros and cons for each.

Are non-medication options discussed? Medication is often only one part of the treatment needed to recover.

Does your psychiatrist listen to your concerns? Do you feel heard?

Are you able to ask questions?

Can you reach your psychiatrist if you need to contact them before your next appointment? Do they call you back within a reasonable amount of time?

These questions help you determine if you and the doctor are a good fit. Don’t be discouraged if you talk with a doctor that doesn’t seem to work for you. Although its difficult going through this process, it is well worth it to find a doctor that meets all your needs.

What questions do you ask a potential doctor? Have you ever talked with someone you knew wasn’t the right fit? How did you handle that?

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31 Comments on Guest Post, Dr. Melissa Welby, Choosing a Psychiatrist

  1. I see a therapist regularly. Since last fall. I’m actually working on a post that discusses it. This is a great set of guidelines for anyone looking for someone to talk to! Will link back to this in my post!

    • I’m glad you see a therapist regularly and that you liked the guidelines. I’d love to read your post when it’s finished!

  2. It would be great to have enough psychiatrists available to choose from in order to satisfy these preferences but where is this possible? I live in a wealthy area where there are a lot of psychiatrists. At the time I had been seeing a VA doctor for many years and was growing disenchanted with her. One day I looked up a page of twenty psychiatrists in Fairfield County. Not a single one accepted any insurance at all. They all charged $350-400 per appointment. I didn’t bother calling any of them. How many do you suppose were accepting new patients? Probably none. I was very lucky to find a doctor who accepted Medicare assignments. She wasn’t accepting new patients but made an exception because my close friend was her long time patient. The point I am trying to make is that finding a psychiatrist who meets all the criteria noted in this article could very well prove to be impossible for all but the most wealthy patients.

    • Hi James and thank you for reading my blog.

      You’re right, finding a psychiatrist that meets all the criteria in the blog post is very difficult. I went through two psychiatrists in two years before I found my current psychiatrist, who I’ve been seeing for 10 years. But, as you mentioned, it can cost a lot of money to have a good psychiatrist. I have to pay $250 out of pocket to see my doctor because she is outside my network. This means less money for other things.

      All that being said, I think its helpful to know what to look for in a good psychiatrist.

      Take care!

      • You are of course correct and I apologize if I seemed to be critical of the content your post. I guess I’m a bit frustrated with what I perceive to be the situation around here.

        • No apologies necessary.

          Finding a good psychiatrist isn’t easy and I know the frustration of seeing a mediocre doctor. I hope you are able to find a doctor that is a good fit for you.

  3. It is that easy. I believe that we want the same thing too. It was reported today that 3 deputy sheriffs and a resource guard stood outside the school knowing there was a shooter in the school with an automatic assault rifle. Why do you think they didn’t go in? All law enforcement. They were afraid and you can’t blame them. They would have been killed instantly. If the shooter had a hand gun, it would have been different. As I’ve said before, his mental issues were well known. By the school, the FBI, neighbors, and he was under the care of professionals last fall. It made no difference. The family that took him in had no concerns knowing he as depressed and owned guns. More counselors and psychiatrists won’t help this problem. And panels talking about it, more than likely doing nothing is meaningless. Ban assault rifles. It worked the first time and it will work again, because people don’t take action, because people are afraid to act, because our kids lives depend on it.

    • While I appreciate your opinion and comment, I prefer to keep the conversation aimed at Dr. Welby’s post on Choosing a Psychiatrist.

  4. Before HMO”scame along in late 1980″s and 1990″s,active boys or loners or kids having trouble making friends, or those from dysfunctional families were not pumped full with serious mind-altering meds. Sure, they were a mess, but we didn”t make the situation worse by giving them drugs. Then the HMO”s decided to start looking at drugs as a way to save money. Pretty soon Ritalin was the rage. As a group counselor on an adolescent chemical dependency unit in the late 1980″s, insurance companies no longer would pay for treatment unless the kid was medicated as well as attending behavioral therapy. It was sudden and I remember when the word came down to us. Guess who started pushing this in the U.S.? The left”s neo-Kraepelians in the 1970″s. Kraepelian, a German psychiatrist of the last 19th early 20th century is the father of pharmacology for psych patients. He was also a socialist. His theories went by the wayside with the advent of Freudian psychology but the Left revived it in 1970″s.

    • That must have been difficult for you to basically be forced to medicate an adolescent. I bet you have some fascinating stories.

  5. Ronald Pies, as quoted in Phil Hickey”s piece: “In short, the ‘chemical imbalance theory’ was never a real theory, nor was it widely propounded by responsible practitioners in the field of psychiatry.” Then Phil Hickey: “In reality, the vast majority of psychiatrists promoted the chemical imbalance theory, as I demonstrated clearly in an earlier post. The vast majority of psychiatrists are not responsible practitioners of anything.

    • Believe it or not, some psychiatrists do not just “manage the medication” which is what the insurance companies want them to do. I go to a psychiatrist monthly who usually talks to me for at least 30-40minutes and sometimes as long as an hour when I’m not doing well. When I’m doing well and no med changes are called for it might be only 20 minutes by mutual consent. Before her I went to a VA psychiatrist who practiced the same way. I’ve talked to many people who have no idea that psychiatrists are also trained in talk therapy. I attended group (non-medication) therapy at the VA for depression patients for four years which was run by a team of two psychiatrists who changed over after a year with the group.

      • Very good point, James. My psychiatrist also does therapy and sees me for an hour at least once a month.

        I’m glad to hear that you feel like you received help through the VA and that you have a good doctor now.

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    • Dr. Welby is a great source of information. I’m so glad that you found the post helpful. Best of luck to you in finding a good doctor.

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