A psychiatrist's training includes medical school, a psychiatry residency and possibly further training in specialty areas. This training should lead to Certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and to specialty Board Certifications. A psychiatrist should be in good standing in the medical community and should continually gain updated medical education.
A psychiatrist should also have experience with the specific issues of concern to you. It's appropriate to ask a potential psychiatrist questions like, "Have you done much work with depressed single parents?", "Are you familiar with head injuries?" or "Are you comfortable working with gay men or transgendered adults?" No one psychiatrist is expert in all areas of psychiatry.
If you are interested in a specific kind of psychotherapy or medication, you may want to ask a potential psychiatrist about it.
There’s also a question of individual fit--will you and this particular psychiatrist form a good working team? This is something you will get a sense of during the first meeting or two. Does the psychiatrist readily understand what you're saying? Does the psychiatrist seem to care about what you're going through? No one psychiatrist is right for every patient.
If your situation is not urgent, you may want to take your time in choosing a psychiatrist. Sometimes at the end of a first meeting you may want to go home and think about whether you want to continue. Or you may want to do introductory meetings with two or more psychiatrists, and choose the one who is the best fit for you.
A psychiatric evaluation can take one or two meetings, at the end of which we will typically have reached an understanding about the psychiatric issues, possible diagnoses, and recommended treatment options. Treatment of urgent issues can, however, often begin at a first meeting.
An evaluation that includes discussion of psychopharmacology (medication), possible side-effects and management of these, and prescribing may not be completed in one meeting and may require several meetings to formulate treatment plans and goals.
If you need assistance right away, please be aware that I may not be able to return your call immediately or may not have an opening in my practice. For extremely urgent care needs, please consult with your primary care physician or go to the nearest emergency room.
Complex diagnostic evaluations and second opinions typically require 1-2 meetings, at the end of which diagnostic opinions and treatment recommendations will be provided.