A very solid relationship built on trust is crucial to having a successful relationship with your psychiatrist (the same goes for a psychologist). By successful, I mean:

You are seeing a psychiatrist because you have a chemical imbalance that primarily affects your brain and therefore has an impact on your behavior and personality. You are seeing a psychiatrist to help you lead a life where you are in control. If your psychiatrist tells you that your problem is a character flaw, I advise you to flee the room ASAP.

As a patient, you are expected to hold up your end of the deal, as in any business relationship. You are expected to:

  • Take the medicines prescribed to you;
  • Report how they are affecting you;
  • Openly discuss problems in your life and learn how to resolve them;
  • Not be afraid. If you are, start searching again. These peole give out drugs that change you in very fundamental ways;
  • Practice strategies for healthier living as planned by you and your doctor;
  • Attend your appointments and call no less than 24 hours before the appointment to cancel;
  • Involve other people in your life in helping you help yourself. You don't live in a vacuum and you are not expected to fight this alone. If your friends and family refuse to support you and acknowledge that you are ill and in need of intervention, find a more friendly and supportive environment. You can take all the drugs you want, but if your parents only want to pray that the demons will leave you and your SO says to buck up and deal with it, you are only hurting yourself even more;
  • Educate yourself and others on your condition and modern approaches towards it;
  • et al.

Your doctor should listen intently, take notes at least the first session, request files from previous doctors and hospitalizations, interact with your parent/guardian/whatever as needed, be receptive to your questions and complaints, and be available by some means around the clock (suicidal feelings do not constrain themselves to the 9-5 workday). Most practices will file your claims for insurance. Check with your insurance to see which doctors are under the plan in your area. If you are not satisfied with these pickings, find someone else. To reiterate: unless your psychiatrist is only doing meds (and even if only that), their decisions have a huge bearing on your quality of life. Oh yes, and psychiatrists will "fire" you as a patient if you willfully go against their instructions.

A usual intake appointment will follow as such:

  1. You and your guardian, spouse, etc., will sit down and discuss why you are here, your motivations, and what you expect to get out of this relationship.
  2. Other person leaves. At this point you and the doc talk about why you are really here. I advise to make a list of concerns, problems, frustrations, etc. Try not to pour your heart out every time because you are not a storyteller: you are a person with intimacies that deserve respect. Retelling yourself is exhausting in many ways.
  3. Other person comes back in. Doctor summarizes, tells how s/he feels about where this relationship could go and what to expect if you choose him/her as your doctor.

Warning Signs that This Doctor is Incompatible::

  • the doctor labels you after the first session.
  • the doctor harps.
  • the doctor leads you like a nasty attorney.
  • the doctor makes moves on you.
  • the doctor does not seem to be with you mentally, etc.
  • the doctor makes you uncomfortable.
  • the doctor is condescending.
  • etc.

You get the idea, right?

Where to Get References:

I recommend going to a doctor from your previous hospitalization who you trust, your previous psychiatrist or psychologist, a family friend in that field, or a similar person in your community or social circles. These people also take a vow of silence when you ask for references, so don't be afraid to ask. If the above are not possible, go to a local hospital, perhaps to their social worker, and ask for help as an out patient or such.

Be Vigilant!

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