Finding the right psychiatrist is never easy. There is a myriad of factors that come into play when it comes to choosing a psychiatrist. For starters, there are many different types of psychiatrists 0 those that offer therapy, those that do not offer therapy, and those that offer specific types of therapy such as CBT or psychoanalysis. Moreover, there is the issue of insurance coverage and location.
We discussed all matters regarding insurance in our Why Psychiatrists Do Not Take Your Insurance. Please read the article if you have not read it.
Generally speaking in areas where there is a short supply of psychiatrists, they tend to accept insurance payment. They only offer medication management to their patients. However, in places where there are plenty of shrinks, and there are numerous treatment options, services providers tend to split between those who accept insurance and those who do not accept it.
That being said, even if your psychiatrist does not take insurance, there is chance to get reimbursed, albeit you might end up paying a higher deductible. To this end, you will have to mail the forms yourself and you will have to wait for a considerable amount of time before getting your money. You might get reimbursed well or not depending on your insurance provider. In some cases, you might not get reimbursed at all. If you insurance providers do not have out-of-network benefits or it is a HMO, then you will have to pay for the entire cost when you see a non-insurance psychiatrist.
So start here:
Ask yourself whether it is important for your psychiatrist to participate in your insurance network like this one from BCBCIL. If does matter to you, and the vast majority of the psychiatrist do not participate in insurance networks, contact your insurance company and get the names and contact number of the psychiatrists who participate in the network. Importantly, just hope that they are accepting patients.
What type of psychiatrist do you need? You need to find a shrink best suited for your needs. For instance, if the shrink is for a child between the ages 16-18, the best shrink is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. If you are looking for a doc for an adult, a general adult psychiatrist is much better suited. If you are looking to treat a specific condition that requires specialization such as psychoanalysis, eating or sexual disorder, you need to find a psychiatrist that specializes in that field. If you are looking for psychiatrist services with regards to the legal system, the best choice is to search for a forensics psychiatrist.
That being said, if you live around academic centers, you need to be aware that many psychiatrists working in such places tend to also be teachers. While they might see some limited number of patients, they are also generally unavailable for consults when they are away presenting in conferences. The same case applies when they have grants due.
You also need to ask yourself whether having a psychiatrist who offers psychotherapy is important. You might be comfortable seeing one doctor who for your therapy and another one for your meds. You might not be comfortable with this setup. You need to have a clear understanding upfront.
The above considerations are the most important aspects to consider. Nonetheless, there are plenty of other consideration that you need to have in mind if you are interested in having a stellar experience – and you most likely are.
Other considerations to make regards parking, the ease of getting an appointment, the setting and the environment of the practice, and the typical length of appointments. The last consideration is very important – you want your doc to thoroughly evaluate your case before beginning treatment.
While in environments such as substance abuse clinics, jails, emergency room, and medical units in the hospitals the evaluation may take as little as a few minutes, you should prefer a thoughtful, thorough, comprehensive evaluation that lasts a minimum of 50 minutes. In some cases, it lasts from 90 to 120 minutes. In any, case the aforementioned environment conduct specific and limited evaluation meant for a specific purpose.
In case you do not have the money or insurance, you best bet for psychiatric care is the local Community Mental Health Center (CMHC). There usually is one clinic per geographical catchment area. Typically, they offer split care and there is a wait. You also do not have a choice as to the doc you see. However, whilst in such a situation, your options are limited and you have to make do with what is available. You should also note that they take Medicaid and Medicare but some will not take private insurance.
To locate CMHC you can use Google search. If you cannot find one, try calling the local clinic and asking for information regarding CMHCs. They might be willing to help you by giving you the contacts to your local CMHC.
Another option is to try other agencies that offer mental health care for the indigent. For instance, in Baltimore, Healthcare for the Homeless also includes psychiatric treatments. The Pro Bono Counselling is also a good tool to use as they will give you referrals to discounted or free care from professionals who have agreed to give back by offering their professional service. With this option you also do not get to choose the doc you see.
If you have insurance and you are interested in staying in the network, contact your insurance company for a list of shrinks in their network.
Beyond money concerns, below are some of best tips with regards to finding a good psychiatrist:
If you have a friend or relative who sees a psychiatrist and they like them, consider seeing them too.
If you have a friend or relative seeing a psychiatrist but you can see that particular doc, ask for referrals from the doc.
You can contact your state psychiatric society and request referrals.
You can ask your regular doctor for referrals.
You can ask a psychiatrist – any psychiatrist. Just like any other field, psychiatrists tend to know each other. If you are relocating, you should ask your regular psychiatrist referrals for psychiatrists in your new destination. In the same light, when you have to see a specialized psychiatrist, you can ask your regular psychiatrist for referrals.
Closely to the above tip, you should consider asking any doc. While a random doctor may not have the information you are looking for in hand, they may be in a position to help you track the information they have. They ask for referrals from their colleagues, thereby helping you find a psychiatrist.
For students, try to consult with your school’s health center/ counseling. If you need off-campus care, they may be able to help you.