Mental health plays such an important role in our lives, and finding the right doctor or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner to help with a diagnosis, symptoms, medication, or treatment is crucial to betterment.
Those who have been through the long winding road of mental health care very rarely sit back and ask a very important question:
“Is my psychiatric professional right for me?”
Suffering from a mental illness affects nearly every facet of one’s life. Many who struggle with these issues have a difficult time navigating the complexities of mental health care. It’s a complicated system with a lot of grey areas when it comes to treatment. Never forget that you’re able to advocate for yourself and decide if your current psychiatric professional is a good fit.
Now, that’s not to say that you should be going about your own, creating your own treatment initiatives and such, but rather deciding if the relationship you’ve established with a trained professional is healthy. If not, it may be time to find a new psychiatric professional. You’ll likely see either a psychiatrist or a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, both of which are highly trained and experienced in care ranging from diagnosis to prescribing medication. Determining whether or not they’re right for you comes down to a wide range of factors.
How can you tell? Well, that’s what we’re going to go over today. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into six ways you can tell if your psychiatrist is right for you.
They Make You Feel Comfortable
Before you can ever hope to trust a psychiatrist, they have to make you feel comfortable. Whether it’s direct and meaningful eye contact or how closely they’re paying attention to what you have to say — there are several ways a psychiatrist may try to make your appointment a comforting experience.
You should feel seen, heard, and respected as a patient. If for whatever reason, you don’t feel comfortable with your psychiatrist, that’s a red flag — and a sign that it may be time to change things up.
They Don’t Rush You
This one may go hand-in-hand with feeling comfortable, but it’s such an important and common issue that we thought it deserved its own section. Whether it’s having your appointments cut short or the pace of conversation is rushed — feeling hurried through your appointment won’t help you feel comfortable or heard.
This type of environment is counterproductive and can lead to:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Sharing less information
- Feeling like a burden
- Forgetting to ask important questions
It may happen every once in a while, where your appointment runs a little late, and your psychiatrist needs to see the next patient. That’s normal. However, if you feel like you’re always running low on time, it could be that the natural pacing between you and your mental health professional is rushed — which can negatively impact your treatment.
Make mental notes during your appointments about how you feel. Do you feel like you’re always about to run out of time when in the heart of an important discussion? Do you feel rushed through certain topics? If so, it may be time to switch things up.
They Treat You As the Expert of Your Life
When it comes to receiving individualized mental health care, the patient’s perspective is the most important. Having a psychiatrist that listens, understands, and validates your experiences is a must. Nobody knows more about your mental health than you.
Your input should be valued and encouraged. Your perspective should be appreciated and listened to. Your questions should be welcomed and appreciated as interest in your own treatment. Your psychiatrist is not there to control your life, but instead, be a guide through rugged terrain.
In short, your psychiatrist should treat you as an expert when it comes to your own life — plain and simple.
They Respect and Acknowledge Your Identity
No matter how you identify, your psychiatrist should acknowledge and address you, respectively. This is especially true for transgender or gender-fluid individuals, who often deal with mental health professionals refusing to recognize their identity. This may come in the form of using incorrect pronouns or ignoring the effects of hormone therapies.
Respecting identity is about more than just acknowledging someone’s being; it’s the first step towards building a productive and positive relationship that will lead to betterment down the line.
They Give You Choice
For some, choice or agency may come as a surprise, as many individuals have experienced a very “steamroll-like” approach from psychiatrists in the past. This may not come in the traditional sense, but rather in the form of being told what you should or shouldn’t do.
Perhaps it’s a treatment opportunity, rehab program, or even a way of thinking. Your psychiatrist should respect your agency and empower you to make the choices necessary for success. Mental illness doesn’t mean you can’t make your own life choices, and a good psychiatrist knows this.
Your treatment should be a collaborative effort, as it takes both you and your psychiatrist to reach your goals.
They’re Open to Considering Alternative Diagnoses
Diagnosis is crucial and has an immense effect on the trajectory of treatment. It can impact what type of medication is prescribed, therapies that are explored, and the label you may need to live with for the rest of your life. It can be frightening, but it can be even more terrifying when a psychiatrist doesn’t appreciate the gravity of your diagnosis.
If you get a quick diagnosis with little explanation, this is not a good sign.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or inquire about an alternative diagnosis. It’s OK to ask about a reassessment, especially if things just don’t seem or feel right. Remember, you’re the expert on your own life. The same can be said about medication; ask questions! This can help inform medication management and give you a better idea of what you can expect with your treatment.
Your psychiatrist should be open and inviting to these types of discussions — and if they’re not, it can be a big ole red flag.
Look For Trust and You’ll Be Just Fine
Of all the tips and advice we can offer about finding the right psychiatrist for you — trust is at the core of it all. It’s not a quantifiable feeling, but when you feel it, it’s there. You have to trust this individual who plays such an integral part in your life. It’s a relationship that shapes the way you feel, see, and approach life.
It may be a gut feeling; it could be something that grows over time — however, you get there, you should feel trust with your psychiatrist.